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October 27, 2017 7:22 pm

Syrian Reflects on First Year in Prince George

Friday, January 13, 2017 @ 5:54 AM
Rose Tohme - photo 250News

Rose Tohme – photo 250News

Prince George, B.C. – Thankful.

The words of Rose Tohme when asked to look back and comment on her first year in Prince George.

It was one year ago, this week that Rose, her husband Nael and three children arrived to great fanfare in the city. The first of a great wave of what turned out to be roughly 25,000 Syrians across the country.

Since that time, Rose and Nael have found jobs (Rose at the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society) and her three children are studying – her daughter at UNBC, her son at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, and her youngest at Cedars Christian high school.

They’ve also moved from an apartment to the roomier confines of a house they now rent.

Did she expect things to work out this way?

“Not that quick. But I can feel the hand of God and this is what’s happened. A very nice place in Prince George to be settled in. A nice country in Canada and we are all settled now.”

Seven families – or over 40 Syrians – settled here though she concedes some are struggling looking for jobs before their government benefits run out.

“It’s hard for some who haven’t gotten jobs. But now at IMSS we are helping them to find housing through BC Housing. One family will move into a home the end of this month and three more have applications pending.”

But despite her family’s success she notes the civil war in Syria continues to weigh heavily on her mind.

“It’s the same picture as when you’re hungry, starving, and then someone takes you to a restaurant. Just by yourself and gives you a wonderful meal,” says Tohme.

“But how can you enjoy it? Every bit aches because it reminds you of your children. So, this is the same thing happening with us now. There are families in Syria with no electricity and feeling cold. Nothing to warm themselves and here I am enjoying the warmth and electricity.”

Currently she’s in the midst of trying to sponsor her sister who’s in Syria and her son who lives in Dubai who couldn’t get into Canada because of his marriage.

But despite those challenges she’s very thankful for all the help she’s received.

“Thank you to God and thank you to Canada for this wonderful country that welcomed us and gave us an opportunity to live in it,” says Tohme.

“Thank you to the prime minister who made this decision to provide a good place for all the Syrians. Thank you to all the MLAs. Thank you to the mayor who welcomed us at the airport and thank you to every person in Prince George. We are enjoying it here because of your love.”


They would be some of the lucky ones. Not all will be so lucky, because most will be competing for the low end jobs… which are of limited supply.

I think this is a good news story because this family obviously has appreciation for the second chance they have here in Canada, and appreciation for the city that took them in. The difference between an appreciative emigrant and an oblivious and indifferent individual is the difference between positive immigration policies verses a failure on the other hand.

What we see in Europe is mostly a hatred for the culture they are seeking to enter, and ghettoization of whole cities, rather than assimilation as contributing members of society. Europe’s open borders is a total failure. Vetting new Canadians to ensure they pose no risks and can contribute to society, and then integrating them rather than using ghettos is a Canadian success that makes the difference.

Having recent emigrants that appreciate the gift that is citizenship in a country like Canada, and want to succeed as Canadians, is half the battle for a healthy transition to becoming truly part of the Canadian fabric.

    Wow. A positive story on the success of a refugee family and this reader, Eagleone, cannot help but concoct a negative response. He implies that other refugee families will no be successful. I suppose his eagle vision helps him see into the lives of other whom he likely has very little experience with, and very little understanding of. Eagleone, enjoy your life perched up on you branch of doom.

      My wife was a refugee so I know what they have to go through. It’s not an easy undertaking. A little bit of realism never hurts.

      Correct, realism never hurts. But there are also realistc positives as well. The world is not all doom and gloom.

    Eagleone sits in judgement over everything and everyone! Being judgmental is a Christian characteristic, I wonder if Eagleone is one? He refers to assimilation like it is a good thing, wrong! I would hope immigrants and refugee would hold their own culture, and religion, near and dear to their hearts… why would anyone have a problem with that?

    At any rate, congratulations to Rose, her husband Nael, and their three children and thank you for becoming a part of our community.

    P.S. Not all of us are so judgmental.

      What a laugh… Not all of us are so judgemental… Look in the mirror much BH. You sit pontificating on everything every day all day long.

      All I did was laud this family for having the right perspective for success. Hardly doom and gloom. Appreciation is something BH would never get so maybe he should retread the post and learn something.

      The article was about a new family to Canada expressing gratitude for their new home, for those that lack reading comprehension, and my comment was positively affirming that outlook and what it means for success.

      Eagle done good, and no, don’t think he’s being judgemental.

Whoa, 2 children in university and one in a private school. A very fortunate family indeed. They’ve achieved in one year what most Canadians never will.

    IMSS must pay well.

a story to make you all fuzzy and warm, but the big question I have, is, who is paying for the childrens schooling? (university, college, and a private school). if the folks are making good money and paying their own way, kudo’s to them! if any tax dollars are involved it puts a real stink on the whole scene.

I have a grandson who has had to drop out of university as he is so deep in student loans he can’t go on. Who can help him?

I have so many mixed feelings, I am glad they are in a safe country and can have a better life here, yet I know people born and raised here and have been waiting for housing also, who have worked their whole life and for whatever reason are not as financially secure as they would like to be and need a little help right now too I certainly hope they are not bumped down the list, but I really am glad they are in a safe place now.

    If your friends are in need of housing they need to apply to local housing providers. If they are not aware of how to do this they should contact the local BC Housing office.

People seem to be equating refugee with destitute. One does not need to be poor to be a refugee. For all we know, this family was quite well off in Syria. It’s not like all their assets were in their backpacks.

    Very true, That’s just not the story that normally hits the front page.

It is also quite possible that their sponsors are helping. This family is privately sponsored, by the Mennonites.

BH, I’m going to depart from my usual diplomatic self and call a spade a spade.
You sir…if you can be called sir…even that is a reach are the worst example of someone being judgmental.
You have no problem slinging your garbage far and wide and denigrating anyone and everyone that dares to disagree with your twisted almost insane view of the world through those thick orange glasses of yours.
Now I am not a fan of E1, nor do I agree with his point of view on this item or many others, I do take offence to you painting everyone that has faith in anything other than themselves with that same brush.
You sir…again I use that term loosely are the ultimate troll, and not worthy of the skin that keeps your useless flesh in place.
I pity the fact that I have to share a planet with an obtuse zealot such as you!

    Where did BH go? Perhaps off licking his wounds somewhere?

    One sure fire way to shut BH up for a while is to just hit him with some “facts and truths” about himself, haha!

    Always nice to see self annoyed royalty get knocked down a notch or two to the level that us commoners occupy!


1. If you look closer, both parents have jobs.

2. Whatever they had accumulated in Syria, they likely lost when they fled the country and ended up in Lebanon. They likely have learned to adjust to their financial situation before they arrived in Canada.

3. The Westwood Church was trying to get $50,000 in donations for three families, and likely managed to do that.

4. Since they both have jobs, the children may have been able to get student loans. It is also quite possible that there are some special considerations given to provide them with grants from the University.

5. They speak English.

6. They are not Muslims; they are Christian.

7. They likely had a middle class or better status before they had to flee Syria to save themselves. They had the good fortune to make that decision which was likely the right one.

Like many others who came to Canada over its time as a country as well as before, they came here to start over again. Also, like most others, it looks like they are managing to adapt.

My parents and I came with $100. My father had a job at a gas station waiting for him. My mother found work cleaning homes and doing laundry for families who could afford such luxuries. We lived in a flat for a year, moved up to a 2 bedroom apartment by renting one of the two rooms to a boarder, also always immigrants. I had a bedroom and my parents slept in the living room. We got a car in the second year we were here. Four years after we arrived my parents saved enough to make a downpayment on a new house in suburbia. My mother still lives there 64 years later.

My mother has stories of survival during a war which I am very familiar with. It would be interesting to hear some of the stories of modern refugees and immigrants who come to Canada, especially from the point of view of children.

If one looks at the history of Canada, this family has been the norm, rather than the exception.

This family fled to Thailand.


This one was in Morocco when the video was taken.


I promise, this is the last one…


The media in PG and Canada covers primarily sanitized stories … the end of the road that has led to Canada due to good fortune.

Okay, so I lied … :-)


just because it is another story about a family that ended up in Canada

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