Saskatoon

Saskatoon Syrians lend a hand to Fort McMurray evacuees

Saskatoon's Syrian refugee community has needed everything from clothing, money, to help with language but now they want to help Fort McMurray evacuees.

Syrian refugee spearheaded fundraiser Monday night

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      Saskatoon's Syrian refugee community has needed everything from clothing, money, to help with language but now they want to help Fort McMurray evacuees. 

      "When people lose their homes, it is something we can relate to," Mohammed Alhelal told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning through a translator.  

      "We want to contribute what we can."

      Alhelal brought his idea for a fundraiser to the Saskatoon Open Door Society, a refugee settlement agency. Together, they were able to organize the fundraiser, which took place Monday evening. 

      "This is time sensitive so we couldn't wait," said Ali Abukar, the society's executive director.

      He added organizing a fundraiser like this is empowering for newcomers because it also allows them to contribute to the well-being of the community.

      "We see this as part of their contribution," said Abukar. "We wanted them to feel that there is something that they have that they can give back and they can do."

      Newcomer to Canada

      Alhelal arrived in Canada near the end of December.

      He fled his home in Homs, Syria with his wife and two children. They spent two years in Jordan before coming to Saskatoon.

      "The community here is welcoming," said Alhelal. "It's a community that supports people."

      It is not the first time Saskatoon's newest Syrians organized an event to give back to the community.

      Mohammed Alhelal and Ali Abukar are helping Fort McMurray evacuees. (Rosalie Woloski/CBC)

      In February, Syrians gathered at Lawson Heights Mall to publicly give thanks to the people of Saskatoon for welcoming them to the city. They handed out flowers to shoppers and carried signs with messages of thanks.

      The fundraiser for Fort McMurray will take place Monday at Civic Square, in front of Frances Morrison library from 5 to 7 p.m. CST.

      It will include food, cultural information, and cricket demonstrations, a sport many Syrians know extremely well.

      All proceeds will go to the Canadian Red Cross.