Those of us that are born in Canada many never truly know some of the hardships that go on in other areas of the world because we simply cannot understand at a visceral level. We can read about it and empathize, but living it is the only way to know the dangers, or even the deep rooted fear. Luckily, our new community member, Sam Aiden will begin his new life in Revelstoke after fleeing Syria.
Selling friendship bracelets at the Revelstoke farmers market, volunteering at the United Church for Soup & a Smile are just a few things Sam is doing in our community already, just after a few weeks here. Before he could dive into our community, he had to flee another.
Sam was living in Syria with his family where he was ousted due to the fact that he is gay. “My family told me to leave Syria, Just go. They decided to kill me.” Sam told the Revelstoke Current. At the time, Sam was studying Psychology in his homeland and was in his fourth year of studies, just one year shy of completion when he was forced out.
Sam had a plan to leave Syria through Beirut, however, Sam’s family had put his name at the checkpoints, which could have been grave danger for him to try and pass through. His mother took him to the Syrian airport and dropped him off. Sam waited two days there until he could catch a flight to Iran. A friend put Sam up for three months in Iran until he could make his way to Beirut.
Through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Sam was placed in a shared living facility in Beirut for eleven months during which time he was waiting to find out where he would be placed. Living in Beirut was a challenge for him as the Lebanese did not take kindly to Syrians.
“If you went out for lunch, they would tell you to go, that you were not allowed because I am Syrian. Sam recounted about a lunch date with a friend. He spent most of his time close to the living quarters for safety, where he taught himself to cook, make friendship bracelets and honed his artistic skills.
Sam had to go through a pre-screen interview before entering Canada, and during that process he indicated that he would be happy to live in the Great White North because it is a life of freedom. In August, Sam received a call from the Canadian Consulate that he would be welcomed into Canada. Sam told the Current that when he found out he “Ululate”, which is a long wavering high pitched vocal sound with a trill; a very distinct Arabic expression of excitement.
After diligently peering through countless files, the Revelstoke Refugee Steering Committee landed on Sam’s profile. Committee member, Laura Stovel stated that Sam was one individual seeking asylum and that he would blend well with our community.
“Sam fits. He belongs here, like a fish finally to water.”
Sam is adapting well to our community. He wakes up every day excited about what the future holds. He has education in Psychology and that is an avenue he will be looking towards in the future. For now, he wants to investigate his artistic side. Sam is a gifted painter and is excited about the opportunity to sit and paint something as simple as a beautiful tree.
“I will need to write my story in a book because it’s very long. I have many things to tell, and one day I will.”
Welcome to Revelstoke, Sam.