Building a new life in Hamilton

Ottawa is now aiming to welcome 10-thousand Syrian refugees by the end of December. It’s clear the transition from life in a war-torn country to life in Canada will be a shock to many newcomers.

Today, Phil Perkins caught up with a recent refugee, who told him about fleeing violence in her homeland and the evolution of her new life in Hamilton.

Five years ago, Hanna Shlinoun was living with her parents in Iraq where violence and oppression were commonplace.

Luckily, her sister had settled in Hamilton twenty five years ago and sponsored her family to finally reunite. The process took two years to complete and was easier than she predicted.

Today, the Immigrant Women’s Centre is where Hanna and over 350 other new immigrants work to improve their English and other essential skills.

In Iraq, Hanna operated a boutique and was a secretary at an eye clinic. She can’t wait to get back into either field within the next five years.

But in the meantime, she’s enjoying some of the things many Canadians take for granted. “I can go outside, walking, shopping. Everything is easy.”

By the end of the year 10-thousand Syrian refugees will call Canada home. 80% will be privately sponsored like Hanna, while the remainder will be brought here by the government. In Hamilton, their first stop will be Wesley Urban Ministries.

And for those entering a new chapter in this country, Hanna has a message for them about their new home. “I love Canada. I’m very happy in Canada.”

If you’re interested in sponsoring a refugee or refugees there will be a session on private sponsorship tomorrow from 5:30-7:30 at the Wesley Urban Ministires in downtown Hamilton.

Visit their website for more information.

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