FREDERICTON – In a reunification that left onlookers speechless, a Muslim family from Syria arrived in Fredericton, Canada on March 15, welcomed by the other half of their family after three years of asylum separation, Atlantic CTV News reported.
“I don’t know how I’m feeling, I can’t even describe it right now. It’s like all mixed together,” said Raghad Al Khlief, a grade-seven student at George Street Middle School, who could barely stand up as she waited for her aunt and uncle, and four cousins, to get off the plane.
Al Khlief brothers and their families have been separated after one brought his family to New Brunswick during the winter of 2016, while the other stayed behind in war-torn Syria.
One half of the Al Khlief family had their faces to the window as the plane arrived. Everyone, including onlookers, cheered and clapped for the family of six as they walked into the arrivals area of the Fredericton International Airport.
There were lots of tears and long hugs, as the two families were reunited again.
“Happy, nervous, shaking, everything, like I could feel right now. It’s just…so happy,” Raghad said. She translated what her uncle, Hammoud, was feeling. “As much as the whole world,” he said.
Raghad’s family came to New Brunswick along with the thousands of Syrian refugees who came to Canada in the winter and spring of 2016 after the governmental bloody crackdown of the Syrian Uprising which started in 2011.
Their time of arrival was around the same time a group of St. Thomas University professors and teachers were looking for a way to help Syrian and Muslim newcomers.
“As a community, we were moved, greatly, by the situation. And we wanted to take action,” said Danielle Connell.
“So we weren’t sure what we wanted to do and we were asked if we would help bring part of the Al Khlief family here and we said yes, absolutely.”
The academic group decided to privately-sponsor the family. They went through years of paperwork and patience and had help from Fredericton-area MP Matt DeCourcey.
“It was worth every question and every email,” Connell said. “The application went through fine and Immigration was very helpful and efficient and I think they did the best they could to get them here as fast as they could.”
Connell informed that the group has facilitated a house where all Al Khliefs will be living together. Everyone helped in preparing a home for them, collecting everything from pots and pans to a TV.
“It’s the best feeling you can have where you’re doing a good thing, you’re helping people,” she said.