Norkam students helping bring Syrian refugees to Kamloops

By Chad Klassen
December 15, 2015 - 5:44pm Updated: December 15, 2015 - 11:20pm

KAMLOOPS — A group of Norkam leadership students has raised more than $1,500 to help bring Syrian refugees to Kamloops in the New Year. 

The group, known as Saints For Syria, has been fundraising all semester, everything from bake sales to pointsetta sales, and even a Star Wars movie night. The money is going to the local group Refugees and Friends Together, which is hoping to welcome three families to the Tournament Capital.


"I feel amazing helping them," says Grade 12 student Shantana Pounder. "They need it so much, and if I was in a situation like that, I would be so hopeful that somebody would be willing to help me."

The Canadian government is attempting to process 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year, and 25,000 by March.

For Norkam teacher Trevor Pendergast, it was the incredibly numbing photo of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi that inpsired him to do something, and he's passed that on to his students. 

"I still think there are a lot of people out there who are really unaware of what's going on, or at the very least they might be aware of some aspect but don't understand the bigger picture," says Pendergast. "So it's really gratifying to me as a teacher to see the young people actually grasping with something that's a global problem."

At least three families from Syria, and possibly more, are scheduled to come to Kamloops in the New Year. Shantana, who attended a RAFT meeting on Monday night, says the group has secured storage space and housing for at least one of the families.

"The one place that was talked about the most was for a family of five. They got a place out in Brock, so they're trying to figure out furniture and stuff for them," says Pounder.

There are still no arrival dates for the families, but they're expected sometime in February, which will be an exciting time for these students and everyone involved in helping bring them here. 

Norkam leadership students will be at Kamloops Immigrant Services on Friday when a representative from the Syrian Canadian Council will speak about the country's culture, followed by a panel discussion on Syrian refugee families with Paul Lagace and human rights lawyer Bill Sundhu.

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