Nova Scotia

Crichton Park Friends of Refugees welcomes new Syrian-Kurdish family

The Dartmouth group has been waiting since March 1 for artist Abdul Isso along with his wife and two daughter's Nova Scotia arrival.

Crichton Park Friends of Refugees got the word Abdul Isso and his family would be coming 12 days ago

After a long day of traveling the Isso family arrived in Halifax Tuesday night around 8 p.m. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Abdul Isso, Hamrin Hussin and their two daughters Mavie, 12, and Melly, 7, finally arrived in Nova Scotia Tuesday night.

The Kurdish-Syrian family was greeted at Halifax Stanfield International Airport Tuesday night by relatives already living in Halifax and the Crichton Park Friends of Refugees — the private sponsorship group based in Dartmouth, N.S., that's been working since January to bring them here.

"They seem more than happy to be here and I think they'll make wonderful Canadians," said Deb Woolway, spokeswoman for Crichton Park Friends of Refugees.

Apartment ready since March

"We are excited, obviously. We don't want to overwhelm them and ultimately we respect the fact that this is their story. This is not about us," she said. "They will write the next chapter and we hope to help them."

Crichton Park Friends of Refugees had an apartment ready in Dartmouth in March, when they were originally expecting the family to arrive, but a backlog of Syrian refugee applications caused delays. Crichton Park Friends of Syrian Refugees only got the word the family would be coming to Nova Scotia 12 days ago. 

The group ended up subletting the apartment to save the money they've raised raised for the family. Woolway said the landlord, Killam Properties, have been very helpful with the changing situation.

"We've been running around doing last-minute things, getting groceries and things like that. Last-minute clean ups, last-minute touches, but otherwise this apartment is ready, the girls' beds are made up. I think they'll be very happy here," she said.

Talented artist

Woolway said Abdul Isso, the father, is a talented artist. The family had been living outside of Beirut leading up to their arrival in Canada and he had been supporting his family through his art. Woolway said she wants to help him make connections with the local art community.

"He desperately wants to create and if you see his stuff online you can see why. It's who he is. The question for Abdul will be can he support his family with his art. That's a big question mark," Woolway said.

"He does massive murals, he also is a sculptor, and works in bas relief. It's quite remarkable."

Between learning English (the group has been talking to the family with translator apps) and getting the girls ready for school, Woolway said there is a lot to do.

"We are really hopeful and we've sent out feelers to the artistic community and the response back has been very, very encouraging so I think the days and months ahead, we'll be able to introduce Abdul to people in the artistic community here," she said.


Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.