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New Syrian family headed to Pictou

Stephen MacKenzie and his wife Donna Collins of Pictou hold a picture of Bader Albarazi who will be coming to the area from Turkey at the end of the month.
Stephen MacKenzie and his wife Donna Collins of Pictou hold a picture of Bader Albarazi who will be coming to the area from Turkey at the end of the month. - Fram Dinshaw

A refugee sponsor group in Pictou is excited to meet a third Syrian family due to arrive in Nova Scotia on May 31 after years of waiting.

After years of seemingly endless paperwork, the Communities Assisting Refugees Now group will welcome the Albarazi family to their new Nova Scotian home at Halifax Stanfield Airport, when they fly in from Turkey.

The family includes 26-year-old Bader, a fluent English speaker who helped the Canadian government process refugee claims in Turkey. Joining him is his father Fakher, mother Rima and his younger sister Ayah.

“I am stoked. I am super excited. He worked for the Canadian government and deserved to come two years ago and he will be an asset to Nova Scotia,” said sponsor Donna Collins. “For us it is like bringing family.”

Collins and her husband Stephen MacKenzie’s connection to the Albarazi family began when Bader helped process the paperwork and translate documents for two Syrian families now in Pictou County, the Casims and Albarris.

Both Collins and MacKenzie are now part of the group sponsoring the Albarazis.

Private sponsors wishing to bring over a refugee family must raise money and file a stack of paperwork to their sponsorship agreement holder, in this case the Pictou United Church.

Once the church approves it, the file is sent to the federal government in Ottawa. Next, it went to the Canadian embassy in Ankara, Turkey. Once there, Turkish authorities will also check it.

Next, the Albarazi family completed interviews with Canadian government officials and underwent a medical exam, criminal records check and security screening.

“Then you wait and you wait and you wait,” said Collins.

Once the family were approved to leave for Canada, their file is sent to the International Office of Migration. Flights are then booked and a second medical is performed. Lastly, they must receive exit visas from Turkey before they can depart.

At time of writing, their flight from Turkey is booked for May 30. They will fly to Toronto, spending their first night in Canada there. The Albarazis will fly to Halifax the following day.

“They’re over the moon, he actually told me his father hadn’t smiled in years. Now he can’t stop,” said MacKenzie of Bader and Fakher Albarazi.

CAIRN is appealing for donations including cleaning, kitchen, cooking and bathroom supplies, furniture and gift cards for groceries and other household necessities.

Donations can be dropped off at the Pictou United Church or at MacKenzie and Collins’ home on 114 Wellington Ave. before May 28.

Those people with furniture items or who wish to help set up the Albarazis’ new home can call Collins at 902-301-4896 or MacKenzie at 902-301-4897.

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