August 21, 2019

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Winnipeggers quilting for a cause

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/9/2015 (1447 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When Dr. Sandra Shaw's son Brian travelled through Syria in 2009, she didn't know anything about the place and worried for his safety.

But of all the places he visited then -- Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Turkey -- the Syrian people were the most kind and welcoming to her son. They invited him for tea. They welcomed him into their homes to use their computers and contact his family in Winnipeg. Standing in line for ice cream, a stranger bought him a cone just for being a guest in Syria. That kindness and generosity was a comfort to the worried mom.

When Syria was later rocked by civil war and millions became refugees, Shaw remembered their kindness. The emergency room doctor became a volunteer with a group called Refuge Winnipeg. The group is sponsoring three large Syrian families that fled to a refugee camp in Lebanon.

She's a member of the housing committee that's responsible for providing shelter to the families once they arrive and for their first year while they get resettled.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/9/2015 (1447 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When Dr. Sandra Shaw's son Brian travelled through Syria in 2009, she didn't know anything about the place and worried for his safety.

But of all the places he visited then — Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Turkey — the Syrian people were the most kind and welcoming to her son. They invited him for tea. They welcomed him into their homes to use their computers and contact his family in Winnipeg. Standing in line for ice cream, a stranger bought him a cone just for being a guest in Syria. That kindness and generosity was a comfort to the worried mom.

Barbara Wynes with Dr. Sandra Shaw (right).

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Barbara Wynes with Dr. Sandra Shaw (right).

When Syria was later rocked by civil war and millions became refugees, Shaw remembered their kindness. The emergency room doctor became a volunteer with a group called Refuge Winnipeg. The group is sponsoring three large Syrian families that fled to a refugee camp in Lebanon.

She's a member of the housing committee that's responsible for providing shelter to the families once they arrive and for their first year while they get resettled.

She's also an avid quilter who belongs to a club. Her club and other quilters involved with Refuge Winnipeg set to work making quilts for each of the 18 children and their parents.

The comforters — which took up to 60 hours each to make — are labelled "welcome to Canada" in Arabic and English, with the recipient's name and the quilter's name. Making the quilts for the families was a labour of love, said Shaw.

"It is a very joyful thing."

When facing the sadness and the desperation of the Syrian people, it was something constructive to do, she said.

Refuge Winnipeg was formed a year ago by a coalition of faith groups, secular Manitobans and the Syrian community to privately sponsor three families.

At first, Refuge Winnipeg was told it could take two years for the refugee families to be processed, approved and arrive in Winnipeg. This spring, they were told the families had been interviewed and approved by immigration officials and could arrive any day. Then they hoped the families would arrive this summer.

Now they're hoping they'll arrive by the end of September, said Barbara Wynes, chairwoman of Refuge Winnipeg.

"We haven't got anything from the government yet and don't have an official itinerary yet," said Wynes.

The refugees, who have a family member in Winnipeg, have gone through all the required processes for immigration and are waiting for the International Organization for Migration to make their travel arrangements once they have Canadian visas.

Those families won't have to make a desperate, deadly journey such as the one that led to the drowning death of little Alan Kurdi, whose image is seared on the minds of many now.

"You just feel exceedingly sad about it," said Wynes. "There is also this feeling that we're so glad we're helping these families with 18 children. They won't have to go through what those other families are going through."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Reporter

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

Read full biography

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