Syrian refugees who came to Montreal last year are slowly settling into Canadian life and culture.

It’s not an easy adjustment, and some continue to face everyday obstacles. When it comes to healthcare, some are still trying to find a family doctor and many can’t afford a trip to the dentist just yet. 

But a group of dentists and dental hygienists from Montreal are addressing the need. This weekend they offered a free dental clinic in Ville Saint-Laurent for Syrian refugees, in partnership with the Red Cross. 

More than 150 people of all ages came out for their first visit to a dentist since arriving in Canada. 

Pointe-Claire orthodontist Dr. Ayan Chamma recruited 12 dentists who willing to offer their time and expertise for free. They’re supported by 21 students in dental hygiene at John-Abbott College.

Chamma is a Syrian native and says he wanted to help his people. 

“We realized that dental issues are coming to the front all the time,” Chamma said. “They are in a dilemma so the purpose is to find some volunteers who can work for the minimal amount the Red Cross gives us.“

The volunteers from John Abbott College were eager to practice their trade, under the supervision of their teachers.

“Whoever volunteered today we were fortunate enough to have 10 of them speaking Arabic so it's great we can give instructions in their language and answer their questions,” said teacher Josee Tessier.

Anila Hasko answered the call. She is a political refugee from Albania and she says she figured it was time to give back to other refugees.

“It's a new dream and I became a successful dental hygienist and I told them never to give up,” she said.

As a bonus, those who need a follow-up appointment will also get one free of charge.