December 23, 2015 - 11:30 AM
KAMLOOPS - The Syrian refugees destined for Kamloops have not arrived just yet, but many locals are already offering support for when they do get here.
Paul Lagace from Kamloops Immigrant Services witnessed the amount of support available when the society hosted a informative talk on Dec. 18 to educate locals about Syrian culture and dispel any myths surrounding the refugee crisis.
“A lot of community people that came in were interested about what they could do,” he says.
More than 300 people attended the forum, which overcrowded the building's conference room and required organizers to livestream the event on separate TV's located in different rooms. The event included a discussion panel with Syrian Canadian Council members, the local imam, members from the Kamloops Islamic Association and human rights lawyer Bill Sundhu.
Mayor Peter Milobar, city council members, local church groups and managers from Refugees and Friends Together (RAFT), which is sponsoring four families set to arrive in Kamloops, were also in attendance.
“There was a lot of questions about (Syrian) culture, will they feel comfortable or will they fit in,” Lagace says. “Look around. You’ll see diversity is not an issue in Kamloops. We have people from all around the world; it’s definitely not a concern."
Lagace says the event was a positive one and didn’t face much criticism, which was something he expected.
“People were very receptive and supportive. There was no concern from the Syrian community and the local community,” he says.
Beyond the four families set to come to the area, government-sponsored refugees will arrive in Metro Vancouver before leaving to smaller areas within British Columbia. MLA Terry Lake recently said the region is prepared to accept between 100 and 150 refugees, but the exact number remains unknown.
“We don’t get informed by immigration until they’re actually on the ground,” Lagace says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015