Nova Scotia

Syrian refugee family adjusts to new home in Halifax

A Syrian refugee family of seven says they're happy to be in Halifax, where they feel safe in their new home.

More than three-quarters of the expected government-assisted Syrian refuges have arrived in Nova Scotia

Forty-two-year-old Mousa Saad and his family arrived in Halifax as government-assisted refugees on Dec. 28, 2015.

As apartment buildings in Halifax continue to fill up with Syrian refugees, one family of seven describes their new home as a "dream come true."

Mousa Saad, his wife Amani Khalaf Khulaif and their five children moved into their Clayton Park apartment in mid-January. Three other Syrian families live in the same building.

"There is an Arabic saying that whoever is doing a small or any kind of favour — any compensation will never be enough," he said.

Saad says since his arrival in Canada on Dec. 28, the support from Canadians has been overwhelming.

"Well the big surprise is the people of Canada," he said. "[They're] always smiling and always willing to help."

Saad is one of 578 government-sponsored refugees to land in Nova Scotia since late December, with a total of 750 expected by the end of February.

"We're over halfway there, and we have 286 who have moved into permanent accommodation," said Gerry Mills, director of operations for the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.

Refugee money

Government-sponsored refugees receive a start-up allowance. The amount varies, depending on family size — a family of six gets $6,543.00, says Mills.

"People come with nothing, so they don't come with a spoon or a sheet or a pot or a table," said Mills. "Some of those things, of course they can get from the donation centre — from the generosity of Nova Scotians, but many things, they need to purchase."

Saad and his family picked up a few items at the donation centre in Bayers Lake, including a kitchen table and microwave. However, they still had to buy furniture.

Once government-assisted refugees are settled, they will start receiving social assistance. 

Saad says he is eager to find work so he can pay the bills himself. In Damascus, he did restoration work on historic buildings. 

'Blood and destruction' in Syria

Saad says he left Syria because of the blood and destruction. He says their house is no longer standing.

As for his siblings, one brother recently moved to British Columbia and another brother is still waiting in Jordan. He has not been able to reach other family members.

"I still have my parents and my sibling and there's no way to communicate with them because it would be really bad for them. It's like a crime calling them from here or communicating with them," said Mousa.

He says it's still difficult, especially for his children. However, he knows they are now safe in Canada.

About the Author

Angela MacIvor is CBC Nova Scotia's investigative reporter. She has been with CBC since 2006 as a reporter and producer in all three Maritime provinces. All news tips welcome. Send an email to cbcnsinvestigates@cbc.ca

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