Skip to main content

Iwan Dalaa and his wife, Zamzam, and daughters, Karima and Ayat, have been prevented from leaving Lebanon due to an apparent document mix-up. A group has been working for months to bring the Syrian refugee family to Edmonton.

Diego Ibarra Sánchez/for THE GLOBE & MAIL

Rev. Glenn McDonald, his congregation and community members have been working for months to bring a Syrian refugee family to Edmonton, and were elated they were set to arrive this week.

Already, Father McDonald said, "they're like our family now."

But when he opened the newspaper on Friday morning, he let out an audible, "Oh no."

Story continues below advertisement

A story in The Globe and Mail said five-year-old Karima, her one-year-old sister, Ayat, and their parents Iwan and Zamzam Dalaa have been prevented – along with several other families – from leaving Beirut due to an apparent document mix-up.

The Dalaa family was supposed to travel via commercial flights to Toronto, and then on to Edmonton. But they were denied boarding on a flight that left Beirut late Wednesday, and slept in the mosque of the airport before finding a ride back to their makeshift home on the outskirts of Lebanon's capital. Mr. Dalaa said the family did not even have enough money to buy a bottle of water.

The Globe story was a shock to Father McDonald and others working to bring the Dalaa family to Edmonton.

"We're kind of concerned that the family is going to be lost," said Father McDonald, chaplain for St. Joseph's College, a University of Alberta-affiliated college established by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton.

On Friday, the sponsor group was scrambling to find a way to transfer money to the family. Others were trying to get Alberta Premier Rachel Notley involved in helping the Dalaas.

Mr. Dalaa told The Globe on Friday his family does not know what is happening but has been told to wait.

"I feel that people do care about us," he said via a mobile message, while also expressing concern about a lack of follow-up from the International Organization for Migration, the group assisting the Canadian embassy in Lebanon with travel logistics for refugees cleared for resettlement.

Story continues below advertisement

"I know now that I would be treated the opposite way when I make it over there [to Canada]."

The Dalaa family is among 10,000 Syrian refugees expected to arrive in Canada before the end of the year. Most of those who will arrive this month, including the Dalaas, are coming through private sponsorships. Many religious groups and ethnic and community associations have agreements with the federal government that allow them to sponsor refugees. The groups are responsible for the refugees' integration during their first year in Canada, and essentials including housing, food and education.

This particular push to bring a Syrian family to Canada was spearheaded by Edmontonians Karin and Colm MacCarthy. Diapers have been donated and an apartment for the Dalaas has already been set up at one of the college's residence buildings, Ms. MacCarthy said on Friday. The youngest of the Dalaa children has a medical issue and will be seen by a specialist as soon as she arrives, she added.

Father McDonald said the idea of sponsoring a Syrian family was brought to his congregation this fall shortly after a shockingly sad photo of a drowned refugee boy lying face-down on a beach near the Turkish resort of Bodrum appeared around the world. More than $54,000 was raised for the family in a single weekend. Under the umbrella of St. Joseph's College, other community members – including Kim Franklin, the co-owner of Edmonton's beloved Highlevel Diner – are sponsoring at least two other Syrian refugee families.

"We have met people from all over the city, people I never would have interacted with," Father McDonald said.

"We are being transformed by this."

Story continues below advertisement

With a report from Samya Kullab

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter