Syrian refugees arrive in Nelson

The family has spent the last two years living in a rooftop shed with a leaky roof in Beirut, Lebanon.

Jameel Msatat

Jameel Msatat, age 5, seems pretty confident about moving to Canada.

“He was marching forward, confident, like he is looking for a new adventure,” says Nelson resident Brian d’Eon, recalling the arrival of Msatat family at the Castlegar airport on Wednesday. The family Mohammed and Tasmeen Msatat and their children, Jameel and Leen, 4 are Syrian refugees brought to Nelson by the Cathedral Refugee Committee.

D’Eon says the family has spent the last two years living in a rooftop shed with a leaky roof in Beirut, Lebanon, after fleeing the destruction of Aleppo, Syria.

They flew from Beirut with a one-night stopover in Vancouver, to land in the undoubtedly bewildering world of Castlegar and Nelson. They don’t speak English, but were assisted with translation at the airport by Nelson resident Zaynab Mohammed.

“They appreciated our feeble attempts at Arabic,” says d’Eon, who was one of a group that took some basic Arabic lessons last month in Nelson, in anticipation of this arrival. “It was amusing because I used the three phrases that I knew and then Mohammed spoke to me in a full sentence, and I was completely helpless.”

The refugee committee, which has pledged, through the federal refugee program, to support the family in Nelson for one year, recently rented a house on Mill St. for the Msatats. D’Eon says the family was overwhelmed when they saw it.

“It has been beautifully furnished with the help of various businesses and volunteers around town, and they are thrilled about it. They were flabbergasted. They could not believe they also had a backyard. The two children have beds upstairs and they were very excited about that.”

D’Eon says the next few weeks the group will help the family with getting social insurance numbers and a bank account, showing them where and how to shop, looking into school for Jameel, and starting language assessments and English lessons for both parents.

“And then we have a whole cadre of people ready to be tutors, including me. At the same time we want them to have a few days where they can have some down time and catch up on their sleep.”

 

Just Posted

New Railtown plaza to be funded by Columbia Basin Trust

The Trust is funding 12 outdoor community projects

Woman stabbed in downtown Nelson

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

‘I’d do it again,’ says Nelson man who swam naked, drunk into Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

Nelson Hospice hosting open house Sept. 25

The group is opening their day hospice program to the public

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, crews on scene

Second bat found at Greater Victoria elementary school tests positive for rabies

Island Health confirms second rabies case, this time in Saanich

B.C. man guilty of first-degree murder in Yukon killing

Edward James Penner, 22, was given the mandatory life sentence for the 2017 slaying of 25-year-old Adam Cormack

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

Most Read