Syrian refugees arrive in Campbell River; family reunited

After nearly a year of waiting and agonizing over the fate of her middle sister stuck in war-torn Syria, the moment Merell Awad had been waiting for finally arrived on Tuesday.

Awad, co-owner of BaBa Gannouj Restaurant, welcomed her sister, Rania Nassar, and her two teenage daughters, Christi and Nya, to Canada to cap off an excruciatingly long journey for the family.

The family was supposed to be cleared to enter Canada as sponsored refugees last June when Awad’s mother, her youngest sister, her husband and two teenage boys were admitted into the country but paperwork issues forced Rania and her daughters to be left behind in Syria, with their fates up in the air.

Last month, however, they were finally given the okay to fly and the family arrived Tuesday at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) via Frankfurt on a flight that left from Lebanon.

Now the family is looking to settle in and integrate into life in Canada, and specifically Campbell River, where the family will be living and creating new lives for themselves.

In the meantime, the Campbell River Syrian Refugee Support Committee, through St. Peter’s Anglican Church, is awaiting the arrival of two more Syrian refugees they are also sponsoring – a middle-aged couple who are family of Awad’s husband, Fouad.

They are expected to arrive in Campbell River on May 10. The committee is currently searching for rental housing for this couple and their two dogs.

Once they arrive, it will bring the amount of Syrian refugees the committee is sponsoring in Campbell River to 10. In order to help support these new citizens, the committee is continuing on with its various fundraisers. The next event is a folk music night at the Royal Coachman’s Carriage Room on Friday, April 21. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., music runs from 6 to 9 p.m.

Tickets are $25 and are available for purchase at the Royal Coachman, BaBa Gannouj and the Online Cafe.

The first refugee family admitted to Canada, meanwhile, is continuing to settle in. Awad’s sister, Huda Nassar, is learning English. Her husband is working and their two teenage boys are attending high school.

The committee says the family is set to become self-sufficient by the end of June, one year after their arrival.


Ross Hammond/Special to the Mirror Fouad (second from left) and Merell Awad (far right) welcome Merell’s sister, Rania (centre) and her two daughters Christi and Nya to Canada after the three arrived at Vancouver International Airport as refugees from Syria.

Peter Schwarzhoff/Special to the Mirror It was hugs all around as Campbell River’s newest Syrian refugee family arrive at Merell and Awad Fouad’s home.