Saskatchewan

Regina Syrian refugee, paralyzed during war, wins $2,500 bursary

The war in Syria brought a temporary end to Mustafa Issa’s dreams. The now 22-year-old fled to Canada in 2016 after two shells hit his family’s house in 2013. Since then he has been paralyzed from the waist down.

'I would like to thank Canada for bringing us here': says Mustafa Issa

Mustafa Issa graduated from Allan Blakeney Adult Campus in Regina this year. The Syrian refugee received a newcomer bursary from the Regina Open Door Society to assist with the costs of post-secondary education in Saskatchewan. (Mustafa Issa)

The war in Syria brought a temporary end to Mustafa Issa's dreams. Issa, now 22, fled to Canada in 2016 after two shells hit his family's house in 2013. Since then he has been paralyzed from the waist down.

Issa has now been rewarded for his determination as a high school student in Regina, winning a $2,500 newcomer bursary from the Regina Open Door Society.

"I feel so happy," said Issa. "The bursary was not only the money for me. But it … encouraged me more …. to study hard."

Issa graduated from grade 12 at Allan Blakeney Adult Campus in Regina and plans to go to the University of Regina in the fall. The newcomer bursaries for refugees assist students with the costs of post-secondary education in Saskatchewan. 

Duncan Brawn, a support worker with Regina Open Door Society helped Issa apply for the award.

"He is very motivated," Brawn said. "Perseverance, motivation and a big smile. You know he has motivated me and others at Open Door ... He is a remarkable young man."

Loss and destruction during the war

On the day the two shells hit his home in Syria seven years ago, Issa lost his brother Muhammad, his aunt Fatima and his cousin Nabil. 

"I had five shrapnel came to my body, so from that time I can not walk," said Issa in an email. Additionally two older brothers were separated from the rest of the family when they fled from the war. 

Issa said family has played an important role in his life while overcoming the hardships they've faced. He said his family is really proud that he received the bursary.

"His family has been excellent in that they support him every step of the way," said Brawn, mentioning the importance of community connections for newcomers.

"This family, from the very beginning, has been very engaged. They have come and volunteered. They have been part of all the Open Door different activities and programs … They have been really engaged with the community, and that makes a big big difference."

Mustafa Issa and his family celebrate his graduation from Allan Blakeney Adult Campus in Regina. The Syrian refugee will start his studies at the University of Regina in September 2020. (Provided by Mustafa Issa)

Grateful to be in Canada

According to Brawn, Mustafa has also been a youth peer leader at Allan Blakeney Adult Campus in Regina, helping other students transition into their new life in Canada.

When arriving in Canada, Issa didn't speak any English. Now that he has started mastering the language, he is ready for a new challenge. 

Issa has registered at the University of Regina where he can work toward his dream of becoming an accountant. 

"I would like to thank Canada for bringing us here to this country and make me to complete achieving my dreams after the war destroyed it," Issa said.


With files from The Afternoon Edition

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