CALGARY – Spending the holidays in a free and peaceful place like Canada is a very new and special idea for refugees from Syria and Iraq.
They’re sharing in a Canadian tradition with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. Thirty refugee families currently living at the organization’s welcome centre are opening Christmas gifts.
“He said he is very happy to celebrate Christmas with the people here in Canada,” said Arabic translator Ashour Esho, speaking for, Luay Al Kacho, an Iraqi-Calgarian.
“It’s beautiful. The sky is fine and the snow and the ice – it’s beautiful.”
Kacho’s family is from Mosul, Iraq and Christmas is a huge part of their faith. They said it’s going to be extra special now that they are finally safe and all together.
“For me, family is loving, forgiveness. I’m so happy to share Christmas with everyone and happy new year to everyone – all of humanity,” said Kacho.
While there is a sense of peace here and optimism, it’s still bittersweet for some.
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“He said he is smiling now but he’s sad inside because he left everything behind,” said Esho – speaking for Syrian refugee Asad Al Salamat.
Some family members gather to dance after opening gifts, many agreeing they’ve received the best gift in the world.
“I am very, very happy to welcome to Canada. Thank you very much,” said Salamat.