Second Syrian refugee family arrives in Whitehorse

A second family of Syrian refugees arrived in Whitehorse Thursday night, after nearly a year of waiting and preparations.

A second family of Syrian refugees arrived in Whitehorse Thursday night, after nearly a year of waiting and preparations.

The Ahmet family flew in from Vancouver and were greeted at the airport by their hosts, a committee from the Riverdale Baptist Church.

Hussein Aarafat and two of his sons, members of Yukon’s first family of Syrian refugees that arrived in January, were also present at the Whitehorse airport to welcome the new arrivals. Tareef Jaamour, a Syrian refugee currently studying at Yukon College, was also on hand to translate.

“For the family to actually arrive, it was just this incredible moment,” said Hillary Gladish, with the Riverdale Baptist Church. “And now that they’re here and we’re meeting them for the first time, it’s just this sense of all the possibility and really looking forward to the future.”

The family flew to Canada from Turkey, and were exhausted from the trip. But they were also very grateful, Gladish said.

“The translators spoke with the husband and welcomed the family here and the mom expressed this gratitude,” she said. “She was just so happy to see everyone, and she was just so happy to be here.”

The couple has three children, a 12-year-old and two 11-year-old twins. Gladish said the family doesn’t speak any English, but the mother was trying to spell out people’s names from their nametags at the airport yesterday, which were printed in English and Arabic.

“She would say ‘I’m not looking at the Arabic!’” Gladish said.

After their arrival, the family was taken to their new home, which Gladish said is centrally located, within an easy walk or bus ride of downtown and the Canada Games Centre.

She said she would meet with them again this afternoon to take a walk around the neighbourhood and to make sure they have the groceries they need. Prior to the Ahmet family’s arrival, the committee met with the Aarafat family to hear feedback about their own transition to life in Whitehorse and what they needed during their first days here.

Gladish said she’s also set up appointments for the family to get identification and to open a bank account.

She said the family will take English classes at the multicultural centre, and the children should be enrolled in school shortly.

The committee has everything it needs in the way of material goods to support the family, Gladish said. But she’s still looking for gift cards to places like Canadian Tire or Walmart.

“If people are interested in helping … then that is probably by far one of the best things that they could help us with.”

She said she’s hoping to organize an event to let the community get to know the family once they’ve settled in.

The Ahmet family has come to Canada under the blended visa program, which matches refugees identified by the United Nations Refugee Agency with private sponsors in Canada. Under this program, the federal government provides up to six months of financial support, with the private sponsors responsible for another six months.

The Riverdale Baptist Church has raised about $45,600 to support Syrian refugee families and the Yukon government is contributing another $18,500.

The church is still working to bring a third Syrian family to Whitehorse under an entirely private sponsorship.

Contact Maura Forrest at maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An avalanche warning sigh along the South Klondike Highway. Local avalanche safety instructors say interest in courses has risen during the pandemic as more Yukoners explore socially distanced outdoor activities. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)
Backcountry busy: COVID-19 has Yukoners heading for the hills

Stable conditions for avalanches have provided a grace period for backcountry newcomers

Several people enter the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Coast High Country Inn Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 26. The Yukon government announced on Jan. 25 that residents of Whitehorse, Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas 65 and older can now receive their vaccines. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vaccine appointments available in Whitehorse for residents 65+

Yukoners 65 and older living in Whitehorse are now eligible to receive… Continue reading

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read