Four years ago, parishioners and friends of St. John’s Church, Jordan were thrilled to welcome the Syrian family they had sponsored to Canada. On October 30 of this year, the church celebrated their new Canadian citizenship with a heritage potluck lunch after church!
This lovely family—Hrant, the father, Talar, the mother, children Anthony and Celine and grandmother Sylva—have settled in nicely to daily life in Canada. Hrant is a self-employed contractor, with the help of Talar who looks after the finances. The children are happy and doing well at school, in Grades 1 and 3, speaking English like it is their first language. Sylva has moved in with an elderly lady and is acting as her caregiver. Sylva at first found learning the language difficult but with time her English has improved immensely.
The family has been attending St. Gregory’s Armenian Church in St. Catharines (the first Armenian church established in Canada). They, along with parishioners from this church, decided to “pay it forward” by sponsoring another Syrian family themselves! They organized a community BBQ fundraiser in June and about twenty parishioners from St. John’s Jordan were happy to attend, along with the mayor of St. Catharines and a bishop who travelled from Montreal. They raised the funds to bring a mother, father and two children here and have set them up in an apartment with furniture etc. It took them over two years because of the pandemic but they say it was made much easier because of what they learned from St. John’s and friends.
St. John’s Jordan and community members began the immigration process in January 2016. During the slow vetting procedure, we talked to them on cell phones from war-torn Syria. Their house had burned down, Hrant was out of work, some days they had no food, and they had to keep moving. But through it all was the hope that one day they would make it to Canada. After two and a half years of filing paperwork, raising over $40,000, finding them an affordable place to live, furniture, etc., they finally arrived in Canada in September 2018! It was a great day!
This wonderful, very hard-working family are so grateful to be in Canada. Their next door neighbour was out shovelling two feet of snow one day last winter and shouted to Hrant, “How do you like Canada now, eh?” He threw his arms up in the air, jumping for joy. “I love it!” he cried. When asked what it means to have their Canadian citizenship, Talar replied “It means everything! It means hope, it means we have a future, it means our dreams have come true!”
This is a small example of the Mission Action Plan at work. Parishioners of St. John’s Jordan coordinated with members of the local community to sponsor this family, and when asked, St. John’s parishioners were more than willing to support and help St. Gregory’s with their sponsorship. Two families have now been given a future!