Syrian refugees wait to see if Trudeau can deliver on promises
As nephews celebrate 1st Halloween in Canada, Shadi Al Khalil hopes PM-designate will keep vow
On Saturday night, Shadia Al Khalil did something she's never done before — she took her two sons out for Halloween.
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The family took a stroll through an Ottawa neighbourhood knocking on doors and collecting candy. It was one more lesson in Canadian culture for the family who arrived in the country in February. They came from Syria via Lebanon, fleeing their homeland to escape the violence of an ongoing civil war.
"The situation was very bad," Al Khalil said as she sat with family at a friend's house over the weekend.
Al Khalil and her family are Christians and were sponsored by an Ottawa church when they applied to come to Canada.
Her brother, Shadi Al Khalil, who has been in Canada since 2010, also helped with the family's application.
Shadi said he is in contact with many Syrians who are desperate to come to Canada and have faced long, frustrating wait times.
He's anxious to see whether the incoming Liberal government can speed up processing for Syrian refugees and whether it can make good on its promise to admit 25,000 Syrians into Canada by the end of the year.
"I wish that a change is coming. But, through my experience, I am really not sure," he said.
Shadi and Shadia were at the home of Denis Therrien for an impromptu Halloween party on Saturday. Therrien is chair of the refugee committee at St. Augustine's Catholic Church in Ottawa.
The church helped Shadi's and Shadia's brother Fadi come to Canada with his wife and young son in 2013.
Therrien said volunteers raised thousands of dollars to help the family. They also helped find them a place to live, helped them enrol in language lessons and did many other things to ease them into life in a new country.
He thinks doing all that for 25,000 people will be a challenge, especially when many of the newcomers will be government-sponsored refugees who may not have the same kind of built-in support networks as families and individuals who are privately sponsored.
"For us, it's a job that's 24/7," Therrien said, recalling how he once had to help the family his church sponsored get back into their apartment when they accidentally got locked out.
He's not sure government-sponsored refugees will get that kind of attention, though he still believes Canada has a duty to help people in need.
He, too, is waiting to see whether the incoming Liberal government can meet the goal that it has set for itself.
"I mean we've done it with the Kosovars, we've done it with the Vietnamese," he said. "It is going to be a challenge to find temporary lodging and whatnot. But the government that Canadians have voted in has given us hope. So, let's see what they can do."