Thunder Bay·Superior morning

Syrian refugee family has Thunder Bay connections

A Syrian refugee family coming to Thunder Bay will have a reunion of sorts when they come to the city.

Mother, father and three daughters fled Syria a few years ago and are now waiting in Lebanon to be re-settled

Thunder Bay's Mahmoud Hatoum says everyone is counting down the days until their relatives arrive. (Supplied by Mahmoud Hatoum)

A Syrian refugee family heading to Thunder Bay will have a reunion of sorts when they come to the city.

Several weeks ago, Redwood Park Church in Thunder Bay, decided to sponsor a Syrian refugee family to move to the city.  

A settlement committee was established and they are now in the midst of fundraising.

Just recently, through the United Nations Refugee program, a family was identified — a mother, father and three daughters. It was later discovered the family already has Thunder Bay connections.

Their family connection is to Mahmoud Hatoum, who owns and operates the Kabab Village on Syndicate Avenue.

He, along with his family, arrived in Canada as refugees more than 11 years ago.  

Hatoum was amazed to discover that the Syrian family are his wife's cousins.

"For this refugee family to come here it's a dream. When I told them we are working to bring you here to Canada they didn't believe me at first," he said.

'The most humanitarian thing they can do'

They hope to have the Syrian refugee family here in Thunder Bay within a few weeks. They are now waiting in Lebanon.  

"[The] best thing we can do for refugees is to bring them here to give them a safe place to live," Hatoum continued.

"It's the most humanitarian thing we can do. We have to think of them as human beings, persons who need protection."

Redwood Park Church is still fundraising and welcoming volunteers to help out.

Hatoum said the church is doing a good job of raising money for the family, and he hopes the application will go through and be approved by the government.

Being able to come to Canada to begin a new life is something Hatoum fully appreciates.

"The situation in the Middle East is complicated. With wars in Lebanon and Syria, I decided to have a better life for my family. I chose Canada," he said.

"Fear [is] everywhere in the Middle East. As a Lebanese I know the meaning of war. It's horrible."

To hear the complete CBC Thunder Bay Superior Morning interview with Hatoum, tap here, or on the audio icon below.

For some Canada represents a dream and a safe place to live without being overwhelmed by fear. We hear about one Syrian family's hopes to move to Thunder Bay 8:01


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