MV friends to welcome new Canadians

Great news at last! As many Valley people will recall, a number of concerned fellow-residents formed a group called The Madawaska Valley Friends of New Canadians (MVFONC) whose goal was to sponsor a Syrian Refugee Family to begin their new life in Canada in Barry’s Bay. In conjunction with the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa (Sponsorship Agreement Holder), the two organizations rushed to meet the new Trudeau Government’s sponsorship requirements. That process began over three years ago amid a flurry of  fundraising, collecting of furniture and clothing, and locating people with expertise in teaching second language learning and in possession of other skills useful to New Canadians. All of these activities were very successful, but we missed the deadline for sponsorship of that first wave of Syrian Refugee arrivals. We had raised $36,361.00 and had also completed the Immigration Ministry’s application process, but unknown to us at the time, the Liberal Syrian Refugee program slowed down considerably after that initial welcoming.

In 2017 we were able to select a family of four (now grown to five) to come to Barry’s Bay: Ayman Alshhadat, a young computer scientist from Syria, his wife Marah and three small children, having fled Syria for temporary refuge in Jordan, were eager to come to Canada.

The immigration process inched along very slowly, with endless papers to be completed both in Canada and Jordan.

Then last week we were informed that the family of five would be arriving in Canada on February 14. Ayman and Marah, with son Imad (5 years old), and daughters Sedrat (3 years old) and Mays (1 1/2 years old) suddenly emerged from piles of paper and became real people headed for Barry’s Bay. Ayman has been in touch by email and he and his family will soon be among us. MVFONC people are really scrambling to be ready for their arrival, but ready we shall be.

Please join us in welcoming Ayman and his family to Barry’s Bay and the Valley!

MVFONC Executive Committee:

  • Rev. Darlene Cunliffe
  • Vicki Glofcheskie
  • Mary-Rose Dawes
  • Sarah Coombs
  • Bob Ogilvie

If you would like to help:

The immediate priority is to find a house for this family of five in the village of Barry’s Bay for the months of March and April. MVFONC says market rates for rent and hydro will be paid if necessary, but no wood heating please since the Alshhadat family are not used to Canadian woodstoves. If you can help, please email

Click HERE to visit the MV Friends of New Canadians page on Facebook.

Featured photo: Alshhadat family (submitted)

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