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Volunteers needed to mentor new arrivals

The call has gone out for volunteers to mentor Syrian kids as they resettle in their new home of Pictou County after years of civil war in their homeland.

Those who sign up will do activities with children such as playing soccer, reading at the library, or playing board games, among others. Volunteers will also need to drive children to various activities and events.

“The kids still need to feel like they belong. It takes a village,” said Nanda Shirke, who has volunteered herself.

She said that Pictou County presently has 11 children from Syria, all of whom are enrolled in local schools. According to Shirke’s figures, four Syrian families are now resettling in the county.

So far, the children have settled in well and are fluent in English, in common with many young refugees who are keen to make a new start in Canada.

Shirke said the best part of volunteering was “the joy you get when you spend time with them, because they’re so happy with little things.”

All told, nearly 50,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Canada since Justin Trudeau’s Liberals took office in fall 2015.

Well over 1,000 Syrians now live in Nova Scotia, giving the province a small but much-needed population boost.

While they have only been here a short time, more and more refugee success stories are emerging.

Most famous of all is the success of Peace by Chocolate, run by the Hadhad family out of Antigonish, who sell their treats every week at New Glasgow’s farmers market.

The refugees have arrived in Canada under federal government, private and blended sponsorship programs.

“I just feel so grateful to Canada,” said Shirke.

All would-be volunteers must undergo police background checks.

People can sign up by calling Pictou United Church at 902-485-8081 to join the Communities Assisting Refugees Now program.

People may also join the Pictou County Safe Harbour Facebook group to help new arrivals resettle.

For more information email Nanda Shirke at

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