Brahim Khawaja overcame unimaginable hardships to travel to Quebec. Party devastated his native Syria, he went to Lebanon. From there, like so many migrants, it was a crazy boat trip to Greece. There are four days he arrived in Montreal, hosted by her aunt. Saturday night, the big reunion: he was finally able to see his mother Clara. Like 160 other Syrians, she was aboard the first flight chartered by the government that landed in Montreal 20 to 15 h.
Brahim’s aunt, Madeleine Khawaja, had not seen her sister for 15 years. She tried for months to sponsor so that they are finally met. “She was alone there,” she laments. Alone in the world in an unknown country, Lebanon, and separated from all his relatives for years. But the time will now be at the party in the Khawaja family. “She will be with me for Christmas”, she enthuses.
Along with the families of refugees, we also found many politicians including Prime Minister Philippe Couillard, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Deputy Minister of Public Safety, Pierre Moreau, the Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, and the Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre.
“I said earlier volunteers, it makes me extremely proud that we as a people is able to return a horrible situation like that these people are fleeing, and show them the face of freedom, the face of the reception, the true face of brotherhood, “said Mr. Couillard told reporters.
Of families reunited
Gracia Melky had not seen his brother Jimmy for nine years. They were separated by life and by war. Finally, she gets to know a new family Saturday: his brother’s wife and their two children, the youngest, a miracle born into the horror of war. “It is the best gift for Christmas,” says Gracia Melky, sparkling eyes, just before seeing his brother.
“Let’s celebrate!” Exclaims Neven Isaak. The Syrian-23 stamped impatiently Saturday night waiting to see his cousin Ghattas. The young woman knows what a shock he will live: herself arrived in Lebanon there are only 10 months. But first, it’s war, the gates of Damascus, she fled. “We will celebrate in the house of our family. But we have other parents there. His brother will come later in another plane, “she said, smiling, in excellent French learned a wink.
Finally the families together, there were dozens Saturday night, just outside Montreal Airport. After months, years, even decades, they were finally able to embrace their beloved tighten their son in their arms or shake hands with their cousin. Among the 161 refugees arrived Saturday night, only one person took the direct route to the Maritime provinces. The other 160 Syrians were sponsored by family members or non-profit organizations.
Alexis Saud arrived in Montreal there are only three days with his wife and 7 year old daughter. Bassel Kano with his cousin, he had come to find her brother who arrived in Lebanon with his wife and their three daughters. Bassel Kano was a child the last time he saw his cousin, a native of Aleppo. That was 30 years ago.
All that siblings will live under one roof for the coming months, away from the war and away from loneliness. “When they left Syria, one took the road to Egypt and another took the road of Lebanon. That was three years ago, “says Bassel Kano. There, the brothers had left everything: their clothes, their memories, their home. Their whole existence. But the page is turned, as it is here in Montreal, they will rebuild their lives, brick by brick.