Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Six Months after Arrival, Syrian Refugees Eager for Jobs in New Country

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Six Months after Arrival, Syrian Refugees Eager for Jobs in New Country

Article excerpt

Six months after arrival, refugees seek jobs


QUEENSLAND, N.S. - The journey from life in war-torn Syria to a sense of belonging in Canada is both sweet and sad for refugee families like those of Ziad Zeina, as they settle into a pattern of job hunting and prayers for loved ones lost or absent.

The 38-year-old tradesman, his wife Wafaa Al Safadi and their four children are still supported most days by the Bay Refugee Group -- a group based 50 kilometres south of Halifax that The Canadian Press has followed since last year.

The group formed in the wake of the tragic images of Syrians drowning in the fall of 2015.

As summer gets underway, there are over 10,000 privately sponsored refugees immigrating to 290 Canadian communities, along with the 15,780 government-assisted refugees resettled by the federal Liberals since November.

Refugees like Waafa continue to express gratitude for safety and security.

"What brings me joy is the help of those around me," she says.

Her four children can romp on Queensland beach -- a shimmering crescent of sand -- and Ziad is planting an enormous garden. Noor, 7, is able to speak full sentences in English after several months in school, her older brother Mohammad is playing soccer four days a week with a club team, while five-year-old Ahmed and 14-month-old Rayan happily scamper through the living room with a view of the ocean.

But the six-month anniversary of their arrival approaches, her husband says finding work as a tile layer will help cement his place in a new country.

"It's very important to get a job," Ziad said, as Basim Sobeih translates.

"I'm not used to sitting home and doing nothing. Back home, men are supposed to be working, going out there and making money. I'm not used to having someone else pay for my expenses."

He wipes his hand across his brow, demonstrating his desire to sweat.

Sponsor Allan King, a retiree in Hubbards, hired him for an initial contract for a job at his home.

"I just showed him the pattern and left him alone ... He's a very hard worker, and did the whole thing in eight hours," says King, gesturing to his gleaming new bathroom floor. …

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