Syrians Settling In
Prince George, B.C. – Six months in and the first Syrian family to arrive in Prince George is adjusting to life quite nicely here thank you very much.
Rose Toume, husband Nael and three of her four children (one son is living in Dubai) arrived to great fanfare in January.
So how are things going so far?
“We are very happy,” says Rose Toume, who recently found full-time employment as a settlement assistant at the Immigrant & Multicultural Services Society (IMSS). “Even my husband has started a full-time job. My daughter Sara is working in Manitoba but will come back (to attend UNBC) but we feel very happy.”
(She also has a 17-year-old son attending Cedars Christian high school and another will attend school in the Fraser Valley this fall).
She estimates over 50 Syrians have settled here and says many have jobs and are feeling settled though language remains the biggest challenge for most of them.
“Because it’s new for them. There are some other challenges too – like getting a driver’s license. My husband drove for 30 years in Syria and now he’s getting his “L” and failed his road test and will wait another month for another appointment.”
Despite the challenges though, she says the people of Prince George have helped greatly with the transition.
“Prince George is a lovely city. And people here, they are ready to help anyone. We’ve gotten help from different people, from different organizations. People from everywhere – in the streets – anywhere we go, Syrians are getting a lot of help,” she says.
“Even people from the government like Shirley Bond, Todd (Doherty), the mayor, many many people. Premier Christy Clark came here and showed her love so we really appreciate that.”
Looking ahead, Rose says she and her husband plan to one day buy a house and settle permanently here though she admits not all Syrians plan on staying.
“Some are looking for bigger cities, looking for more jobs you know. IMSS is helping Syrians find jobs which has helped a lot.”
She admits the missing link is the family and friends she was forced to leave behind in Syria.
“I love Canada and I love my country. But we hope one-day peace will come to Syria and we can go and visit.”