The Current

Established refugees offer advice to arriving Syrians on how to make Canada home

There's a steep learning curve for many of the Syrian refugees arriving in Canada. Luckily, it's an experience other refugees have lived through before. Today, Canadians who arrived here as refugees offer their advice to the newest arrivals.
Syrian refugees Kevork Jamgochian holds his daughter Madlin at the St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church during a welcome serivice at the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto in Toronto, December 11, 2015. (Reuters/Mark Blinch)
This is a new home. This is a safe place for you, and a beginning of your new life. - Tima Kurdi on what her Syrian family should know when arriving in Canada

It's a very big day for Tima Kurdi. She is the aunt of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler whose lifeless body was photographed, washed up on a Turkish beach, last September.

Despite that loss, Tima Kurdi has kept on struggling to bring her other brother and his family to Canada.

Kurdi family set to reunite


6 years ago
Tima Kurdi, the aunt of drowned Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, talks about sponsoring her brother Mohammad, his wife and five children to a new life in Canada 5:26

Today, Mohammed Kurdi, his wife and five children are scheduled to arrive in Vancouver and move into her home in Port Coquitlam. The Kurdis are just a few of the thousands of Syrian refugees coming to Canada over the next week .... though the Liberal government says it may not meet its target of settling 10,000 refugees by year's end.

Syrian refugees Elo Manushian (C) arrives with her husband Hagop (L) at the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto in Toronto, December 11, 2015. (Reuters/Mark Blinch )

All of the new arrivals will now face the challenge of adapting to life in this country. Though of course, it's something many thousands of refugees have been through before.

So today, in order to get a better idea of the ups and downs that newly arrived refugees experience as they resettle in Canada, we reached out to three people who have made new lives here.

  • Kelly Hong Mien Lee is a hair stylist and makeup artist, as well as one of the directors of the Help Kids to School Foundation, which helps kids get out of the sex trade in Vietnam. She was in our Toronto studio.
  • Mahad Yusuf is the executive director of the Somali Immigrant Aid Organization, as well as the executive director of Midaynta Community Services, an organization dedicated to youth and education. He was also in our Toronto studio.
  • Haidah Amirzadeh is a lawyer from Saskatoon. She teaches immigration and refugee law at the University of Saskatchewan. She was in Saskatoon.

If you have your own experience as a refugee settling in to Canada, we'd love to hear from you.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley and Marc Apollonio.