Sponsored Syrian family becomes Canadian citizens
BY DENNY SCOTT
For one Egmondville family, this will be a very special Canada Day weekend, marking the first they celebrate as Canadian citizens.
Sharif Al Massad and his wife Abeer Allias, their children George and Joseph Almassad and Abeer’s mother Wedad Al Hassad had a lot to celebrate this week as Sharif passed his Canadian citizenship test, the last member of the family to do so after the other four members of the family passed their citizenship tests virtually in March.
To mark the occasion, the Tuckersmith Resettlement Project (formerly the Tuckersmith Refugee Project) held a get-together at Egmondville United Church to celebrate one of Canada’s newest families.
The group, which came together thanks to representatives from four local churches, brought the Al Massad family from Syria in 2016 and has done everything it can to help the family make it to this point.
Since arriving in Canada, Sharif has started working at General Coach, a trailer manufacturer, in Hensall in 2017 while Abeer has completed early childhood education training at the Fanshawe College campus in Clinton. After having worked in some local daycare centres, she became an educational assistant for the Avon Maitland District School Board, most recently working in Seaforth.
Willi Laurie, a member of the project, explained that the churches, the Brucefield Community United Church, Egmondville United Church, Vanastra Christian Reformed Church and the Clinton United Church started working together to help the family and the congregations were happy to be able to help relocate of the family to Huron East and help them become Canadian citizens.
The celebration featured special guest speakers like Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan, Bill Strong representing Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb and speakers from the four churches as well.
Minister Brian Hymers of Egmondville United Church spoke, welcoming the family and saying that they had been a part of every event and fundraiser the church has held since he started there, saying that proved their faith and their excitement to be a part of the community.
Abeer also spoke thanking everyone for their efforts in helping her family out.
“We wouldn’t be here without you,” she said. “You have made us safe and happy. Thank you.”
She said their new family in Huron County was amazing, adding that they love where they live and they love Canada. Sharif echoed his wife’s sentiments saying it was wonderful to be in Canada.
The Tuckersmith Resettlement Project isn’t done with Sharif’s family yet, either, with hopes of bringing his sister Sonia to Canada in the near future. Anyone looking to help can contact the four churches listed above.
As for Canada Day, Sharif, Abeer and their family plan to mark the occasion as they have in the past: with gusto.
“We decorate outside with a huge Canadian flag and have a big celebration,” she said. “We will go to the [Seaforth firefighter’s] breakfast, local fireworks celebrations and go to the beach. We’ve always done that to celebrate Canada as best we can.”