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SEEING CANADA THROUGH A NEW LENS
Syrian refugees share images of their new lives in Canada
Over the last 18 months, Canada has resettled more than 40,000 refugees from Syria. Photographer Marcus Oleniuk reached out to some newly arrived families and led them through photo workshops so they could capture their new lives in Canada. Here are their favourite photographs.
Fatima Al Hassan & Yousof Mosa Al Jalmoud
Fatima Al Hassan and her husband Yousof Mosa Al Jalmoud have seven children. They were farmers in the southern area of Aleppo, Syria.
Yousof – I chose this picture because it’s in front of our house; it will be a memory for us with our little girl in front with the teddy bear.
Fatima – I like this picture because my children look very happy climbing on the fence. My children look happy, and it made me happy to see this picture.
Berihan Alshahin & Nouhad Al Noumiry
Berihan Alshahin and her husband Nouhad Al Noumiry left their suburb near Damascus for Lebanon before arriving in Canada. They have three children.
Berihan – The scenery of Canadian houses and trees looked really nice.
Like this garden and chair: It reminds us of Syria where we used to gather in gardens.
Here the colours are so beautiful. But we don't have these colours in Syria. The flowers, trees and spring colours, it draws you to it, so beautiful.
And my daughter is walking here, it looks so natural. I never thought I'd use a camera and take pictures like that.
Nouhad – When we first came here, we were so impressed. We used to see these things on TV only. Like this picture: We don't have trees that turn to purple; here the trees transform and change colours.
We started taking these pictures. These are beautiful pictures.
We weren’t able to do this in Lebanon. We didn't feel safe. We were living in camps, the worst four years of our lives. So, of course, we were happy to take these photos.
Nidal Abdo & Fatma Wakas
Nidal Abdo and Fatma Wakas. They fled Aleppo for Turkey before arriving in Canada.
Fatma – Here you feel secure and safe. The most important thing is that your children's future is secured. This is what we want. That’s what we live for.
Nidal – These are my kids; I took this picture next to this painting. The words at the top talk about love in the world. Freedom in the world means a lot to me. If you look at this picture, you’ll see a lot of innocence. There’s also an ‘X’ on the picture of the weapon. It’s a country of love and peace.
My children look happy in this picture. I use this picture to teach my children about the message in this painting. What does it mean to have freedom and security. This is very beautiful and important.
The 76-year-old former carpenter fled Aleppo after living there for 35 years.
I am remembering my youth. Now I cannot walk. I used to jump up and down the stairs now I can’t even walk with my cane. There is a big difference between then and now. When I saw these pictures, I started imagining my old youthful days when I used to work.
Mayzar Al Mohammad & Ghazala Al Mohomad
Mayzar Al Mohammad and Ghazala Al Mohomad left Syria for Lebanon before arriving in Canada in 2015.
Ghazala Al Mohomad – My, school starts at noon. I finish everything and I cook before I go. At the beginning it was difficult, so I was a little upset and I didn’t want to go. Now I’m getting better little by little, so now it’s good.
This meal is called stuffed squash, it is a Syrian dish. My children love it and we still eat it. Nothing has changed for us. We still eat the same food.
Mayzar Al Mohammad – When I see my son happy, it is a wonderful thing.
We’re very happy.
It’s really beautiful. I can feel that my son is safe and free