Syrian refugee helps others with Operation Evac
Published Saturday, November 25, 2017 3:26PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, November 25, 2017 7:21PM EST
Two years after an influx of Syrian refugees came to Montreal to escape civil war, many are still struggling with integration, but a new non-profit is hoping to help.
More than 6,000 refugees have adopted Montreal as their new home. Among them is Jad Chanko.
“Canada wasn’t some sort of plan A or plan B for me,” he said. “It was my only choice. It’s like, I can’t go home to Syria to do my career.”
The 25-year-old Chanko is fluent in English and French and was educated as a civil engineer. Since coming to Montreal, he’s taken a job in a call centre. He said he feels lucky to have the job, as unemployment among Syrian refugees remains high.
“It was somehow easy for me to integrate, but for others, maybe it’s harder with languages, with finding jobs,” he said. “Integrating into the community isn’t only the language, it’s being able to, if you can say, live the Western style. It’s not that easy for everyone.”
Chanko has begun working with Operation Evac, a non-profit designed to respond to the needs of the refugees in Montreal.
“We’re a group of almost entirely young people who are looking to make a difference in the refugee crisis,” said Operation Evac President Patrick Salonius. “We’re raising money for social and emergency assistance for Syrian and other refugees in the city.”
The group is raising money for non-governmental agencies already helping refugees, using video and social media.
“What we’re looking to help with are little particular needs along the way,” said Salonius. “Lots of refugees that arrive here need to have someone to check in on them, to make sure they’re actually able to access services. So, someone to help them find language classes, someone to help them with Hydro-Quebec.”
The group will have an official launch party at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday at Reggie’s Bar, with their first goal being to raise $7,500 for Action Refugies Montreal.