It’s been 5 years for the reason that first refugees fleeing the Syrian civil warfare had been welcomed to Canada.

Since then, hundreds of people and households have needed to be taught new languages, discover jobs, and set up themselves in a society utterly completely different from their very own.

CBC Radio’s All Points West lately caught up with a few of the a number of hundred newcomers to Victoria to find out about their challenges and have a good time their accomplishments from the previous few years.

Sari Alesh, violinist:

Sari Alesh stands with a few of his sponsors outdoors a small restaurant in the James Bay neighbourhood of Victoria, the place they’re celebrating the oath of Canadian citizenship Alesh took earlier that day.

After 5 years in Victoria, he can lastly name himself a Canadian. 

“I was waiting for this day for a long, long time,” Alesh stated, including that he is constructed shut relationships with all of his sponsor households over the years.

“We are so proud of everything [Alesh has] accomplished in the last five years. This much!,” stated sponsor Heather Ferguson, her arms outstretched vast. 

Sari Alesh, a Syrian refugee and violinist, is reviving his musical profession in his new home in Victoria. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Back in Syria,  Alesh was a classically-educated violinist with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra. After arriving in Canada, he confronted many challenges, comparable to studying English, and he frightened about discovering a house to proceed his violin music.

But along with his sponsors’ assist, he quickly started his personal band referred to as Sari Alesh and Friends, the place he is additionally found his ardour for “fiddle style” music, Alesh stated. 

He’s now finishing programs at Cambria College so he can work with college students who’ve particular wants. “If I can include music as therapy, I will do that,” he stated. 

Sponsor Budd Hall stated Alesh has a “remarkable gift with young children,” and he is proud Alesh is pursuing this present as a new Canadian citizen, whereas additionally preserving music in his life.

Listen to Alesh’s journey to changing into a Canadian:

All Points West6:19From refugee to Canadian citizen: Syrian musician builds new life in Victoria

Five years after arriving in Victoria, Sari Alesh has constructed a new life and develop into a Canadian citizen. Along the way in which he has fashioned shut friendships along with his sponsors. In reality, a few of them are in his restricted COVID bubble. The CBC’s Adam van der Zwan shares their story. 6:19

Mohamed Salem Ajaj and Marwa Ataya, grocery retailer house owners:

Mohamed Salem Ajaj and Marwa Ataya say they have been bringing members of Middle Eastern communities collectively since they opened Victoria’s Damascus Food Market in 2019.

“[Syrian] food was hard to get,” Ajaj recollects.

He says he must journey as much as 4 hours to Vancouver to search out meals from home.

“I wanted to open this business to help my community and my family,” he stated. 

Mohamed Salem Ajaj opened the Damascus Food Market in Victoria in 2018 along with his Marwa Ataya. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Ajaj and Ataya arrived in Victoria with their 4 younger kids in 2016. Ataya says the most important problem was studying English.

Their sponsor households made settling in straightforward as a result of “everything was ready,” like a home to remain in, and at-home language classes, she stated. 

Ataya says whereas the couple misses their households again home, they plan to remain in Victoria, the place “it’s nice and quiet, [with] friendly people.”

She says their eldest son has lately began serving to to run the shop, and since opening, they’ve had a lot of neighborhood help.

Listen to an interview with Mohamad Salem Ajaj and Marwa Ataya:

All Points Westeight:46Syrian household finds entrepreneurial success in Victoria with market specializing in Middle Eastern meals

Several hundred Syrian refugees settled in Greater Victoria as a part of a nationwide humanitarian effort 5 years in the past. Many seemed for jobs after they arrived. But some, like Mohamed Salim Ajaj and his spouse Marwa Ataya, opened their very own companies as an alternative. They spoke with Kathryn Marlow about their lives in Victoria and the Damascus Food Market. eight:46

Mohammad Rashid, Esquimalt High School scholar:

Mohammad Rashid, 16, sits in a park subsequent to his home, and recounts performing in a COVID-protected highschool expertise present a few weeks earlier. 

He pre-recorded a efficiency of a hip-hop music he’d written referred to as All What I Wanted. In the video, he stands in an empty room, with a white hoodie over his head, lip-syncing to his personal creation, which was professionally recorded in a music studio in Victoria.

“Everyone was like, ‘Oh, that song was fire’…’Keep it up,’ ‘I’ve added this to my playlist,'” stated Rashid, recalling the college students who approached him on the finish of the varsity day. 

Syrian refugee Mohammad Rashid, 16, didn’t converse English when he arrived in Victoria along with his mom, brother, and sister, in 2018. That has modified rapidly, in half due to his love of music. (Adam van der Zwan/CBC)

Rashid stated his friends are at all times shocked to be taught he could not converse any English simply three years in the past, when he, his mom, sister and brother arrived from Syria. They’re much more shocked to be taught he solely began writing, singing and recording music in English simply over a yr in the past.

“I definitely couldn’t tell, with the way he delivers his vocals, and the storytelling in his songwriting,” stated Steve Kroeger, the music engineer who mixes Rashid’s music.

Rashid, whose stage title is Tiger M, says his songs reflect many facets of his life in Syria, of affection, and of being a teenager.

Listen to the story of Rashid’s ardour for music, and the way it’s helped him settle into his new life in Canada:

All Points Westeight:02Syrian teen learns English and finds inspiration by making music

Since Syrian refugees first began arriving in Victoria 5 years in the past, every has been on their very own journey to construct a new life. Teenager Mohammad Rashid didn’t converse English when he arrived along with his mom, brother, and sister, in 2018. That has modified rapidly, in half due to his love of music. Adam van der Zwan has his story. eight:02