Samar, centre, and Bader, left, meeting Parksville Coun. Kirk Oates during a welcome and meeting with volunteers at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre on Thursday (Jan. 18). The family of five arrived at Nanaimo Airport on Dec. 22, 2017. — Lauren Collins Samar, centre, and Bader, left, meeting Parksville Coun. Kirk Oates during a welcome and meeting with volunteers at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre on Thursday (Jan. 18). The family of five arrived at Nanaimo Airport on Dec. 22, 2017. — Lauren Collins

Coming to Canada ‘like a dream’

Syrian family meets volunteers, councillor after living in Parksville for one month

After living in Canada for nearly a month, Samar says her family’s new home has been fantastic.

Samar, her husband Bader, and their three children, Fatima, Zeinab and Oday, arrived in Canada on Dec. 22, 2017, after fleeing from Syria and spending the last four years in Beirut, Lebanon. The family was sponsored by the Qualicum Refugee Sponsorship Group 2017.

RELATED: Parksville’s Syrian refugee family arrives on Island

RELATED: Qualicum refugee group matches with family

In an interview with The NEWS, and through Arabic translator Noura Abusaman, Samar said she feels that Canada is already her country.

Samar said people in the community have been welcoming by coming up to the family and introducing themselves.

Since arriving in Parksville, Samar said, she’s contacted her parents and in-laws to keep them updated, adding she told her family coming to Canada is “like a dream.”

Samar and Bader’s eldest daughter Fatima, 9, started school already, Samar said, while younger sister Zeinab, 4, will be starting daycare.

Samar said Fatima was so happy during her first week of school, adding that it was a welcoming environment from the teacher and students. She also said Fatima is already making friends.

Samar and Bader will be starting English lessons at the Nanaimo multicultural centre in the coming week. Samar said she knows it may be hard to learn the language but she’s excited to try.

As for Bader, Samar said, he’s looking forward to being able to start work.

The family, and QRSG17 members, met with potential volunteers Thursday, (Jan. 18) at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre. The family was also welcomed to the community by Parksville Coun. Kirk Oates on behalf of the mayor, council and the city.

“We were very excited to hear about you coming to our city, and we were happy when you finally arrived. We’re looking forward to seeing you out and about in our community,” Oates said.

Oates said before the meeting, he saw Samar and Bader’s children playing with Abusaman’s children.

“I reminded myself that there’s nobody alive on this earth that doesn’t want a better place and a better life for their children,” he said.

Samar said some of the biggest differences she’s noticed since coming to Canada is the amount of respect and human rights. She also said she likes the feeling of being safe since moving to Parksville.

To stay updated on the family and QRSG17, visit or


Fatima, 9, pulls her little brother Oday, 2, along in a wagon given to the family by a volunteer at Thursday’s (Jan. 18) meeting at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre. Fatima and Oday’s parents Samar and Bader were meeting with volunteers. — Lauren Collins photo

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