Young Syrian refugees meet the Canucks

 

 
 
 
 
The Syrian children clearly adore Fin as they gathered around the Canucks famous mascot for hugs.
 
 

The Syrian children clearly adore Fin as they gathered around the Canucks famous mascot for hugs.

Photograph by: Kim Stallknecht, PNG

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VANCOUVER — Nine-year-old Ranim Kurdi sports a huge grin as she explains, with some help from a translator, that her favourite Canucks players are the Sedin twins.

“Because they are strong,” she says.

Ranim and her 15-year-old brother Shergo Kurdi, were part of a group of 14 young refugees from Syria, ranging in age from five to 24, who spent the day touring Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Saturday and meeting hockey players.

The kids waved signs they made in English and Arabic, many saying “Go Canucks” and met with Fin, the team’s mascot. They also met with hockey legend Kirk McLean and took part in a “hockey 101” class. On Saturday night, they planned to watch the Canucks play the St, Louis Blues at Rogers Arena. Translators were on hand to help the kids communicate, and many expressed excitement about watching the game live.

Shergo and Ranim are members of the Kurdi family, their father the uncle of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old boy whose body was photographed washed up on the beach of Greece. The boy, his mother and brother drowned in the Mediterranean as they tried to escape war-torn Syria. The photo horrified millions around the world, and woke many to the tragedy and plight of thousands of Syrians.

Shergo said he loves hockey and would like to play here some day. “I watch (hockey) on CBC and I always watch the Canucks,” he said, through a translator. He said in school his friends always ask him to play goalie because he is very good at that position.

Both children said they thought Canada was very “nice” and said that they were very happy to take part in the tour. In English, Ranim said “I like hockey” adding that she would also like to play the game.

“It’s a wonderful country,” said Shergo Kurdi, when asked what he thought of Canada. “It’s very understanding and helping people. And they are always smiling.”

Harout Abkian, 24, who has been living with his family in North Burnaby for three months, said he had never seen hockey before but wanted to experience the game. “It’s very, very nice. I want to play hockey. Maybe I will next year. At home I play soccer.”

His sister, 19-year-old Zila Abkian, said, in English, that so far she has felt very welcomed to Canada, and that everyone she has met has been very friendly.

Saturday’s event was hosted by S.U.C.C.E.S.S., an organization that helps immigrants and refugees settle and integrate with the local culture, and the Canucks.

Queenie Choo, CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., said ice hockey is considered a national sport, and they hope introducing the kids to the game will help them integrate with Canadian culture.

“They are thrilled and excited to watch the game,” she said.

Choo said more than 60 per cent of the Syrian refugees who settled in B.C. are children. She said it was “amazing” to hear how quickly the young children were picking up English.

ticrawford@postmedia.com

 
 
 
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The Syrian children clearly adore Fin as they gathered around the Canucks famous mascot for hugs.
 

The Syrian children clearly adore Fin as they gathered around the Canucks famous mascot for hugs.

Photograph by: Kim Stallknecht, PNG

 
The Syrian children clearly adore Fin as they gathered around the Canucks famous mascot for hugs.
Syrian refugee Shergo Kurdi, 15, watches St. Louis Blues NHL hockey practice after a tour of Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 19, 2016. With a federal government grant the Vancouver Canucks and local social services agency S.U.C.C.E.S.S have teamed up to teach refugees about hockey as a way to better understand Canadian culture and to integrate them into the community.
Federal Minister of Immigration John McCallum joins the invited Syrian refugees during their tour of Rogers Arena Saturday morning. The special event was made possible by the Vancouver Canucks and SUCCESS.
Federal Minister of Immigration John McCallum joins the invited Syrian refugees during their tour of Rogers Arena Saturday morning. The special event was made possible by the Vancouver Canucks and SUCCESS. Mr. McCallum is pleased to greet Harout, who was most grateful for the experience.
Leading the way is 15-year-old Shergo wearing the Canucks A jersey. The Vancouver Canucks invited Syrian Refugee families to Rogers Arena to meet Fin and enjoy an arena tour including the Canucks dressing room. Federal Minister of Immigration John McCallum also joined the Syrian group for a special Hockey 101 session.
The Syrian children clearly adore Fin as they gathered around the Canucks famous mascot for hugs.
The Syrian refugee children parade through the Vancouver Canucks locker room led by Rod Brathwaite (far left). Together with the Vancouver Canucks and SUCCESS, a special tour of Rogers arena was made possible for the group of 24, who attended the Vancouver Canucks game Saturday night.
Young Syrian refugees take a look at the Canucks practice from level 500. They are part of the 24 Syrians who attended a special tour of Rogers Arena made possible by the Vancouver Canucks and SUCCESS.
Zila, dressed in her goalie’s mask, takes a selfie following the Vancouver Canucks Hockey 101 session at Rogers Arena. She is one of 24 Syrian refugees who will enjoy the Vancouver Canucks game Saturday night.
Zila, dressed in her goalie’s mask, takes a selfie following the Vancouver Canucks Hockey 101 session at Rogers Arena. She is one of 24 Syrian refugees who will enjoy the Vancouver Canucks game Saturday night.
Young Syrian refugees take a look at the Canucks practice from level 500. They are part of the 24 Syrians who attended a special tour of Rogers Arena made possible by the Vancouver Canucks and SUCCESS.
The Syrian refugee children and families stop for a group photo inside Vancouver Canucks locker room.
The Syrian children clearly adore Fin as they gathered around the Canucks famous mascot for hugs.
Receiving a famous Fin head bite is 12-year-old Dilsir, one of the Syrian refugee children, who is joined by Queenie Choo (right), the Chief Executive Officer of SUCCESS, who organized the special Rogers Arena tour, including attending the Canucks game Saturday night.
Kirk McLean, Vancouver Canucks alumni, gives first hand instruction to Harout (left) and Shergo, both Syrian refugees who were part of the group of 24 touring Rogers Arena Saturday morning.
Federal Minister of Immigration John McCallum joins the invited Syrian refugees during their tour of Rogers Arena Saturday morning. The special event was made possible by the Vancouver Canucks and SUCCESS. He gets a spontaneous hug by 12 year old Dilsir wearing the scarf.
A young Syrian refugee girl takes one last look around at the equipment hanging in the Vancouver Canucks dressing room. She is one of 24 Syrians who attended a special tour of Rogers Arena made possible by the Vancouver Canucks and SUCCESS.
Syrian refugee Mohammad Siljak holds a sign while watching St. Louis Blues NHL hockey practice, after a tour of Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 19, 2016. With a federal government grant the Vancouver Canucks and local social services agency S.U.C.C.E.S.S have teamed up to teach refugees about hockey as a way to better understand Canadian culture and to integrate them into the community.
Syrian refugee Dilsir Siljak, 12, holds up a puck that entered the seating area during St. Louis Blues NHL hockey practice, after a tour of Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 19, 2016. With a federal government grant the Vancouver Canucks and local social services agency S.U.C.C.E.S.S have teamed up to teach refugees about hockey as a way to better understand Canadian culture and to integrate them into the community.
Syrian refugee Dilsir Siljak, 12, holds up a puck that entered the seating area during St. Louis Blues NHL hockey practice, after a tour of Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 19, 2016. With a federal government grant the Vancouver Canucks and local social services agency S.U.C.C.E.S.S have teamed up to teach refugees about hockey as a way to better understand Canadian culture and to integrate them into the community.
Syrian refugee Shergo Kurdi, 15, watches St. Louis Blues NHL hockey practice after a tour of Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 19, 2016. With a federal government grant the Vancouver Canucks and local social services agency S.U.C.C.E.S.S have teamed up to teach refugees about hockey as a way to better understand Canadian culture and to integrate them into the community.
Syrian refugee Shergo Kurdi, 15, watches St. Louis Blues NHL hockey practice after a tour of Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 19, 2016. With a federal government grant the Vancouver Canucks and local social services agency S.U.C.C.E.S.S have teamed up to teach refugees about hockey as a way to better understand Canadian culture and to integrate them into the community.
Syrian refugees watch St. Louis Blues NHL hockey practice after a tour of Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 19, 2016. With a federal government grant the Vancouver Canucks and local social services agency S.U.C.C.E.S.S have teamed up to teach refugees about hockey as a way to better understand Canadian culture and to integrate them into the community.
The Vancouver Canucks' Henrik Sedin, right, of Sweden, celebrates with his twin brother Daniel following Daniel's goal against the New York Rangers, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Nine-year-old Ranim Kurdi sports a huge grin as she explains, with some help from a translator, that her favourite Canucks players are the twins.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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