Whitehorse Daily Star

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ENDING THE NORTHERN EXPERIENCE – The Arafat family seen here after touching down at Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport on Jan. 30, 2016.

Grateful Arafat family to decamp to Ontario

The Yukon will be saying farewell to 10 members of the Arafat family soon as they get set to move to Windsor, Ont.

By Stephanie Waddell on June 16, 2017

The Yukon will be saying farewell to 10 members of the Arafat family soon as they get set to move to Windsor, Ont.

Yukon Cares founder Raquel De Queiroz said Wednesday that the Syrian family who arrived in the territory as refugees in January 2016 will be moving on.

The sole exception is Ismail, the second-oldest of the nine Arafat children.

Yukon Cares sponsored the family, providing a year of support and financial assistance after they arrived in Whitehorse on Jan. 30, 2016.

The assistance was extended at a reduced amount for six months before ending as the family worked to become financially independent.

Ismail, who works as a barber at Hendrik’s Barber Shop downtown, has decided to remain in Whitehorse.

As De Queiroz explained, Windsor is seeing an influx of Syrian families who have arrived in the country as refugees.

While the Arafats have certainly expressed they have felt very welcomed in the Yukon, they are missing the Syrian community and want to move to Windsor to be part of that.

They also feel there will be more opportunities for the children to attend university in Ontario, De Queiroz said.

“It was certainly not an easy decision (for them),” she noted, adding the children have thrived in Whitehorse.

The family was able to earn and save money during their time in the Yukon.

The mother, Fatima, has started a sewing business from home along with family members selling Syrian goods at various community events.

Hussein – the father of the family – has been working at a local Shoppers Drug Mart outlet, with the older, grown children taking on their own jobs and/or school courses through Yukon College.

The younger members of the family are attending public school.

While all but one member of the family will make their way to Ontario, De Queiroz said Yukon Cares sees this as a successful sponsorship, given the family’s success in adjusting to their new life in Canada.

Yukon Cares, meanwhile, is getting set to welcome more members of the Arafats’ extended family.

The group is working on its next sponsorship for Hussein’s brother, his wife and three children, and Fatima’s brother. It will likely be at least a year before they are able to come to Canada, De Queiroz said.

She also noted Yukon Cares will host its annual general meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Whitehorse Public Library.

Along with looking at the detailed finances of the group, discussing the work from the past year and plans for next year, De Queiroz said local nurse Trish Newport will give a presentation.

“Trish Newport is a Yukon nurse who has worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) since 2009,” states the group’s Facebook event page.

“She has worked in Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, South Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq.

“She recently returned from her 10th field assignment with MSF, where she managed an MSF project in Northern Iraq and Mosul.

“Trish will share her experiences and perspectives from the frontline of humanitarian assistance.”

De Queiroz said she hopes to see a large crowd attend the AGM.

Comments (17)

Up 6 Down 2

ProScience Greenie on Jun 22, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Err, what you wrote above Hugh Mungus, applies to just about everywhere in America. Small town to big city, there are cultural festivities, events, community gathering places, language, arts, music and the whole nine yards from just about every culture around the globe, all alive and well. That’s the boots on the ground reality of America. Travel around down there or look it up - America is a very multicultural country. Can't spin that fact away.

Somewhere between forced integration and unbridled multiculturalism is the right place to be. That happy middle ground might be found by picking and following the best of America’s melting pot policies and our multicultural policies and reject the very real flaws that exist in both. Sitting on a high horse of smug anti-Americanism insisting that our policies are perfect and falsely claiming that America is culturally monolithic will not help us make things work better here at home.

I like what Australia is doing with revamping their immigration and citizenship policy. Link below.

Up 6 Down 9

Hugh Mungus on Jun 21, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Just a point of clarity for some of the posters here. Integration and multi-culturalism are polar opposites. Integration, like the melting pot model of the US desires new citizens to become 'murican, what ever that means. Very complicated given the land now known as the US was occupied over the centuries by FN, Spanish, French, British, Africans before waves of new Americans like Asians, eastern europeans and middle Easterners. What do you choose to assimilate to????

Multi-culturalism, which Canada is renowned for globally is about celebrating the culture of all Canadians, new, old and all. Everyone of us in North America is an immigrant or a descendant of an immigrant and we can choose to live within our traditions, free from persecution, as long as we live within the laws of the nation. You can travel in most Canadian cities and find neighbourhood pockets of Italians, French, Irish, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Creole, Lebanese or whatever where you can participate in the culture, food and music of those people and that is what I want my Canada to be.

Up 27 Down 6

YukonMax on Jun 21, 2017 at 9:35 am

Their final destination was never Canada. They will all be moving to the States as soon as opportunity knocks.

Up 8 Down 2

Gary Liddy on Jun 19, 2017 at 1:17 pm


Up 34 Down 40

Alice Cyr on Jun 19, 2017 at 12:00 pm

With hopeful hearts they left their war torn home. They came to a new country, learned English, worked hard and made a new start. Now they are ready to confidently move on. Wasn't that our object in spending the time and money to give them a temporary home?

Their fresh start was not a life sentence, but only a loving leg-up. I, for one, am very proud to have been a part of the effort.
I'm appalled and ashamed at the snarky comments here. For shame. When did the people of Whitehorse become so cynical and mean-spirited?

Up 41 Down 11

Charles on Jun 18, 2017 at 8:54 pm

They might be making a big mistake. Yes, they might miss living among people who speak the same language and share same culture, but that doesn't always mean harmony. Imagine Josey, or myself moving elsewhere in Canada, and wanting to live in a group just because the others came from Whitehorse or YT! The relocation is is not going to be easy for this family; they have to find new employment, and the children who have 'thrived' here have to find new friends and integrate into new schools. I wish them all the best, but am disappointed they have chosen not to integrate in to the community that sponsored them. They must have heard the familiar saying: 'if you stay here two years, you will never leave.' Amazing how many take that to heart & how many of us didn't pay attention to it years ago so made YT our home. I think we can see the writing on the wall as to how long the next family will stay, since they are relatives.

Up 56 Down 12

Wundering on Jun 18, 2017 at 6:36 pm

Multicultural Society? immigrants don't seem to assimilate into Canadian society, they recreate the society they came from within Canada.
The recreated Syrian society must be in Windsor.

Up 22 Down 27

Anie on Jun 18, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Predictable, thank you for reminding us that generous Yukoners contributed so that this family could be safe. We didn't do it control their lives. I cannot imagine the courage it must have taken for these people to start a new life in a place that must seem so foreign. And if we are honest we'll admit that, in their situation, we would also chose to be closer to people with whom we share a culture. As to "assimilation" give your head a shake people. Our ancestors chose to live in close proximity to people who immigrated from same countries. That's just human nature. Regarding the downtown homeless, they are not any more or less deserving of kindness simply because of their geographic location.

Up 50 Down 23

north_of_60 on Jun 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Many people predicted this would happen when the government benefits ran out. Wasting our tax dollars on virtue signaling is what LIBs do best.

Up 29 Down 37

Predictable comments on Jun 18, 2017 at 8:05 am

BNR, citizens worked hard to get this family into safety, not control their behaviours and actions by having expectations they be grateful, immobilized and indebted.

Up 58 Down 15

Barry Smith on Jun 17, 2017 at 9:50 pm

This was inevitable - square pegs being shoved into round holes
Can some of the homeless people that I've seen in downtown Whitehorse for the last 4 or 5 years move into their house when they leave ?

Up 69 Down 19

Just Say'in on Jun 17, 2017 at 7:09 pm

The reason they are leaving is the "Support" ran out. Can you imagine the size of a house you would need for that mob? We can't afford to have more then one or two children, but they are already looking to get a good University education for the whole works of them. How is that going to work or need I ask?

Up 56 Down 17

Grateful? on Jun 17, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Less than 2 years they have been here and they are being called "grateful"? And they miss Syria so badly that they are moving to Ontario. What nonsense.

Up 45 Down 16

Darrel Drugstore's Smartest Neighbour on Jun 17, 2017 at 2:11 pm

SOOOOOO - will there be a local fundraiser to help pay for their moving to Windsor expenses ?

Up 37 Down 15

Wishing them well on Jun 17, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I wish the Arafats well. I'm happy to know that they are out of Syria and in a safe country. One of their children is staying here, and who knows, they may be back in future as a family. Whether here or in Windsor, I'm happy that they are safe and that the children have a chance to live a normal life.

Up 39 Down 19

Josey Wales on Jun 17, 2017 at 1:04 pm

BnR...true that! They will disappear into some cultural ghetto that may be a no go zone..or soon too be. Most likely have zero need to assimilate as the crusade will insist we assimilate to the 7th century. I am surprised all the adults did have government positions merely given to them actually?
Maybe the next wave will have their own equity based non merit career awarded to them...?
Given the epic virtue signalling that we fund...as we cut our very own throats via political pandering very well within the realm of eventuality

Up 75 Down 12

BnR on Jun 16, 2017 at 7:24 pm

Ok, they can go anywhere they want. Free country etc. But it seems a bit ungrateful to bail out on the Yukon, whose citizens worked hard to get them here, just to go into a Syrian community in Windsor. So much for integrating into the multi-cultural Canadian tapestry eh.
Regardless, I wish them well in their new home.

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