Saskatonians urged to learn more about Syrian newcomers

Newcomers fleeing war torn Syria are slowly filtering into Saskatoon, anxious to begin a new life, while at the same time struggling to adapt and feel welcome.

Expert believes knowledge will help with integration

Farrukh Syeer with the Open Door Society says learning more about Syrian culture will help Saskatonians to better respond to their new neighbours. (CBC)

Newcomers fleeing war torn Syria are slowly filtering into Saskatoon anxious to begin a new life, while at the same time struggling to adapt and feel welcome.

They just wanted to be heard.- Farrukh Syeer, Open Door Society facilitator

While Syrians have much to learn about Canada, Saskatonians may be able to help by doing what they can to learn more about their new neighbours, according to the Open Door Society. 

"This understanding will help us a long way in helping new Syrians in getting integrated into mainstream Canadian society," said Farrukh Syeer, a facilitator with the Open Door Society.

One of the most important things to remember, according to Syeer, is that Syrians are coming to Saskatoon after experiencing much trauma.

"They are not coming from a natural and very normal circumstance."

Syeer said the trouble in Syria began with the Arab Spring and protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime in March 2011.

"They just wanted political participation; they just wanted to be heard," said Syeer.

The regime reacted with violence, and the situation devolved quickly into civil war. The violence reached new heights when outside groups like ISIS flooded into the country with their own agenda. The human cost climbs as the fighting rages. The death toll now exceeds 100,000 and millions have fled their homes, seeking sanctuary either in neighbouring countries or elsewhere in their troubled country.

Saskatonians must to listen carefully 

Some of those refugees have already arrived in Saskatoon and more will arrive in the coming weeks. Their needs, Syeer said will be great, and he urges people to understand a key difference between Syrian and Canadian culture. Canadians, he suggested are direct in expressing their needs. Syrians, he said, are not.

"Messages might be communicated through lots of non-verbal communication … we must be mindful of this fact."