After Canadians opened their hearts and homes to Syrian refugees, the newcomers who now call London home are trying to return the favour.
Nearly three dozen refugees gathered at City Hall Monday afternoon to present a cheque for $1,000 to Canadian Red Cross, earmarked for the relief efforts underway in Fort McMurray, Alta.
“We followed with great sadness the fire disaster in Fort McMurray that swept through their community, destroying houses and displacing thousands of people,” said Mohammad Kurdy, a member of the group. “We know what losing your house means. We know what it’s like to say goodbye to your life-time souvenirs and to start from scratch establishing a new life in a new place.”
During the presentation, Kurdy said that the refugees “now know the true meaning of what it is to be Canadian.”
Members of the group said their act of service was inspired by other refugee communities, like in Ottawa, where similar contributions to those displaced by the Alberta wildfires have been made.
To date, 1,000 privately- and government-sponsored refugees have come to London, with 900 more expected by the end of the year. An effort spearheaded by the City of London and a number of faith-based and educational groups raised more than $200,000 for the newcomers last fall.
The Fort McMurray contribution was unsurprising to London Mayor Matt Brown.
“We’ve talked about welcoming our new neighbours and our new friends for months and months, and we’ve talked about how refugees, when they come to our country, make our nation stronger,” he said. “And we’re demonstrating that today: they’re already giving back.”