May 18th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 20
Syrian refugees to visit Pass in August
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Pass Herald Reporter
This time last year they were languishing in refugee camps.

In August, they’ll be in Bellevue, eating ice cream.

On August 20, about 70 former refugees from the war torn Middle East will be visiting the Pass to see the community’s sites, marvel at its beauty and visit The Old Diary Ice Cream Shoppe.

“This is an opportunity for us to get together,” said event organizer David Thomas. “It’s in all of our interests that these newcomers to Canada feel welcome and it’s in our interests that we feel comfortable with our new residents as well.”

On May 10, Thomas asked council to donate $2,000 to fund the visit. The money will be used to organize a picnic to be attended by both former-refugees and locals.

Council discussed ways to furnish the money. Councillor Dean Ward suggested dipping into the fund reserved for miscellaneous not-for-profit groups.

“It’s a good thing,” said Ward of the plan give the former refugees a tour of the community. “I think we should support it.”

The day trip to the Pass is being coordinated by Lethbridge Family Services. The busload of former refugees will mostly be made up of young Syrian families, though a few come from other Middle Eastern countries, said Thomas. They are among the 240 government-sponsored Syrian refugees to be resettled in Lethbridge by the end of the year.
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All are former residents of refugee camps who have been vetted by the United Nations and the Canadian government, said Thomas.

Thomas said the objective of the event is to provide former refugees re-settling in Lethbridge an introduction to the beauty of the Crowsnest Pass and to enhance the Pass’s reputation as a warm and welcoming community.

In addition to the ice cream shop, the former refugees will visit Lundbreck Falls, the Bellevue Underground Mine and the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. They’ll get steam train rides on the grounds of the Nippon Institute of Technology.

Both the Bellevue Underground Mine and the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre have agreed to waive admission fees for the group.
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Before leaving home for Lethbridge, they’ll enjoy a picnic, catered by The Chefs on 2 Thirteen, on private property adjacent to the upper Crowsnest River where they’ll participate in a fly-fishing demonstration, a visit to Allison Creek, a hike and interactions with locals through an interpreter.

Thomas said he did not know which Pass residents should be invited to the picnic.

“The point is for them to meet residents,” he said. “[But] I don’t know who to invite to the picnic, I don’t want the Syrian families to be overwhelmed by a crowd.”

Thomas said he would devise an invitation list. Council suggested the Boys and Girls Club could be recruited to attend.

“I’m open to suggestions,” said Thomas.
May 18th ~ Vol. 85 No. 20
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