Benefit concert raising funds to aid refugees

Local group hoping for $60K to bring 3 Syrian families to city


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Members of Winnipeg’s musical community are teaming up with a local organization for a benefit concert on Tuesday to help Syrian refugee families come to Canada.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/01/2016 (2572 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Members of Winnipeg’s musical community are teaming up with a local organization for a benefit concert on Tuesday to help Syrian refugee families come to Canada.

The South Osborne Syrian Refugee Initiative is raising funds to bring as many as three families displaced by the war in Syria to live in Winnipeg.

Two of the families already have relatives here, said Matthew Lawrence, a spokesman for the community group.

Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press Winnipeg folk trio Sweet Alibi (Jess Rae Ayre, Amber Quesnel, and Michelle Anderson).

Joseph Chaeban and his wife, Zainab, are living in Winnipeg and want to bring Zainab’s brother and three young children to Winnipeg. They have fled to Lebanon while the war in Syria and Iraq rages on, while a cousin, Mohammad, and his wife and two youngsters escaped to Turkey, the refugee initiative said.

Lawrence said the group is aiming to raise at least $60,000 to bring the families to Winnipeg and help them get settled. They bumped up their target number of families to three when a GoFundMe campaign in December raised $52,000 in just eight days, he said.

Even if they are able to meet their financial goal, there will still be a significant wait for the families to be reunited in Winnipeg.

“It’ll take about a year for them to get here, depending on the application process,’ Lawrence said.

The concert, scheduled for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Park Theatre, features local acts the Bonaduces, Sweet Alibi and DJ Co-op. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students) and are available at the Park Theatre, Churchill Park United Church and at

“Sweet Alibi is a really awesome rootsy group,’ said Lawrence. “The Bonaduces, they’re almost like a Winnipeg institution. They don’t perform together much any more, so it’s a bit of a reunion for them at this event.’

The community group is hoping to add a musician or group with Middle Eastern connections to take part in the finale.

The show will already have a Mideast flavour, as Chaeban and his family are preparing food for concertgoers, Lawrence said.

The South Osborne group formed about a year ago, Lawrence said, when the war in Syria and Iraq escalated and the plight of its refugees became a global concern.

“It kind of lit a fire under everybody in the community to help out,’ he said.


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Alan Small

Alan Small

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

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