17-year-old Fathi was no doubt overjoyed to receive his ten younger siblings and little niece at the Winnipeg airport on Thursday. Fathi, who is ethnically Somali but has grown up in Saudi Arabia, was orphaned when his father, who worked for the Somalian consulate in Saudi, died. After learning that his siblings and he were stripped of their legal status and to be deported back to Somalia, the oldest made a daring journey across the world, walking to Winnipeg from the Emerson boarder crossing.
After being accepted in Winnipeg as a refugee in October of 2014, Fathi spent the next year fighting to bring his siblings to Canada as well. The children do not speak Somali and had they been sent back to Somalia, where they do not have citizenship, their future in the tumultuous state would have been precarious and uncertain. After many setbacks and disappointments, the group arrived on January 14 with the help of Hospitality House, the Diocese of Rupert’s Land, and others.
An unprecedented story in Canadian refugee resettlement, the group of 12 will be living at St. John’s Cathedral’s Hospitality House (run by the organization of the same name), and cared for by a foster mother from Manitoba Child and Family Services.