It was with great enthusiasm and relief that members of Golden Opportunities for Refugees (GOfR) welcomed the Shono family to town last week. The process of sponsoring the resettlement of this family from Syria was an exercise in patience and paperwork, on both sides. After years of anticipation, the members of the Shono family — Safouan, Sima, Eva, and Yousef — are finally able to call Golden home.
Members of GOfR met the Shonos at the airport on November 6, and have been introducing the family to aspects of life in Golden since. During a welcoming event on November 11 with the GOfR committee, the Mountain Magic Quilters Guild offered gifts of four quilts made for each member of the family.
Safouan pointed out the serendipity of meeting with the GOfR group on Remembrance Day, expressing his gratitude for people both in Canada and around the world who have given their service to honour values of freedom.
GOfR is a community group working in partnership with The United Church. Their objective has been raising funds for private sponsorship of refugees, and facilitating all aspects of sponsorship. The efforts of the group were made possible through generous donations, large and small, from community members and businesses during the fundraising stage. It is hoped that this involvement of many supporters will provide a broad network of people within Golden who are looking forward to seeing the Shono family thrive in their new situation.
“There was not one minute of strangeness or formality with the Shonos,” Karen Archibald said of meeting the family at the airport. “Since members of the committee have been exchanging emails for the past three years, it was like greeting old friends. Also, everything went so smoothly with immigration and customs, we are so thankful for those who have advised and assisted us every step of the way.”
Canada is unique in the private sponsorship model, which accounts for two thirds of resettled refugees in the country. According to the CBC, people who are resettled through private sponsorship achieve better outcomes and have an easier time integrating into their communities than those who arrive through government sponsorships.
“While we were preparing ourselves to move to Canada, we had worries and fears like any other expats, but as soon as we landed we were welcomed with a lot of love and kindness. We received help and support from the community of Golden, we felt at home and welcomed and that helped us to overcome our stress and anxious thoughts,” said Safuoan. “We are willing to be part of this gorgeous community.”