The Qualicum Refugee Sponsorship Group 2017 has found a home for the region’s newest refugee family. And just in time.
The QRSG17 announced at Monday’s Town of Qualicum Beach council meeting that the family would be arriving this week. However, since the meeting, the QRSG17 has said the family’s arrival to Parksville Qualicum Beach has been delayed.
Also on Monday, Wilfrid Worland, QRSG17 core member and spokesperson, said the QRSG17 took possession of a town house in Parksville for the family after a call out to the public asking for assistance in finding a suitable home.
“True to our branding, we had hoped to bring our family to Qualicum Beach but owing to the pressures of both time and cost, we looked further afield,” Worland said, adding the group “feels fortunate” to have found a home for the family.
“As a group, we’re taking the approach it takes more than a village; last year it was a town, this year it’s a city to resettle a refugee family,” Worland said.
Last week, QRSG17 chair Terry Roberts appeared as a delegation before Parksville city council at its Dec. 4 meeting to provide an update and say that a home had been found.
Mayor Marc Lefebvre invited Roberts to bring the family to city hall for a tour and introductions.
“We could probably go for lunch or supper with the family,” said Lefebvre, noting he and councillors have done the same for newly arriving physicians and others in the community.
“It’s a great time of year to be doing this sort of thing,” Lefebvre added. “It brings home the message we should all be doing more, and often.”
Worland said the family, consisting of dad, mom and three children, would be arriving at Nanaimo Airport Friday, Dec. 15.
The Syrian family of five has been living in Beirut, Lebanon for the past four years after fleeing from Syria. The family will fly to Toronto from Beirut, with an overnight stay, before flying on to Vancouver and then Nanaimo, where they will be greeted by members of the refugee sponsorship group.
Worland said they were notified just last week that the family’s flights had been booked.
It was in mid-November the QRSG17 found out it had been matched with the family. At the time, the group was told the family could arrive in four to six weeks.
QRSG17 chair Terry Roberts said the family’s father, 33, has a farming and construction background and the mother, 28, was a nurse in Syria. The children are aged eight, four and 18 months.
At Monday’s meeting, Coun. Neil Horner, who congratulated the group on their work, asked whether or not the family might choose to return home to Syria in the future, citing Russia’s decision on a partial pullout of Russian forces from Syria.
“I’m just wondering, is this family going to want to go home when things are back to normal, or do you think they’ll stick around here?” Horner asked Worland.
Worland said refugees always have the choice of returning home, but he also said he can’t speak on behalf of the family.
“We think after what they’ve been through, they’re likely to see things here and maybe see a better alternative for their lives,” Worland said.
— With files from J.R. Rardon