Syrian refugee family arrives in Charlottetown

A family of Syrian refugees that landed in Charlottetown on Friday night says they’re happy to be safe, but have mixed feelings about escaping the violence in their home country.

Family fled Syria more than a year ago; lived in single room in Lebanon before coming to P.E.I.

Members of P.E.I. Syrian community hold signs at the airport as they away the arrival of Awak Alkhalil and his family on Friday night. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

A family of Syrian refugees that landed in Charlottetown on Friday night says they're happy to be safe, but are worried about their friends and family still living in their home country.

Awak Alkhalil and his family fled Syria more than a year ago. For a time they lived in a single room in Lebanon. They were greeted at the Charlottetown airport by members of the island's Syrian community holding welcome signs and flags. 

Being on the island is a far cry from the sounds of bombs and shotguns Alkhalil says his family is used to. 

"Thank you, thank you, thank you very much. Thank you Canada. Thank you government of Canada," he said.

In Syria, Alkhalil worked as an agricultural engineer and his wife was employed at a bank. They hope to find work soon to provide for their children. But in the meantime, Alkhalil said he can't stop thinking about friends and family still living in Syria. 

Susan Nye-Brothers with the Charlottetown Diocese Refugee Committee, a group that helped bring the family to P.E.I., says that's a common worry among refugees. 

"What I continue to hear from family members is that it's really hard for them to sleep at night, knowing their family members are still at risk," she said.

Two more Syrian families are set to arrive in P.E.I. this month.


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