Syrian newcomers get dedicated community space thanks to help from Brett Wilson

posted Dec 13, 2017, 11:40 PM by Sam Nammoura   [ updated Dec 17, 2017, 12:22 AM by Amr Sayed ]
(L-R) MLA Brandy Payne, Sam Nammoura, Saima Jamal, and Brett Wilson.

On Saturday, Calgary business owner  and former Dragon's Den personality Brett Wilson, alongside members of the Syrian Refugee Support Group, cut the ribbon on 5,000 square feet of space to be used as both a community hub and a physical donation drop off point.

Saima Jamal, co-founder of the refugee support group, said it's difficult enough for anyone coming to a new country, but this addition to their lives should help make the transition smoother.

"Usually they get invited to different classes and different events, but don't really have a space they can come to on a daily basis that is free," Jamal said.

"They can come together and just do what they want to do," she added.

Jamal believes the space will help not only the next wave of newcomers in Calgary but also those who were among the first wave to arrive more than a year ago.

As for his involvement, Brett Wilson said he got a call from a long-time friend who has been heavily involved in helping Syrian refugees get on their feet in Ontario, and got the ball rolling immediately on finding a property to let the newcomers use free of charge.

"A dear friend of mine, Jim Estill, reached out and asked if I knew anyone who had space in the north of Calgary," Wilson said.

"Well I don't, but I do have space in the south. He said I think that may be close enough," he added.

The warehouse space, which usually leases for around $10 a square foot, will now be used free of charge for at least the next five months.

Wilson said around the country, the outpouring of support for not only Syrians, but any newcomer to Canada is always something that fills him with pride at being a Canadian.

"You know, Canadians at their heart love each other. I mean, we have our differences, let's be clear about that, but as Canadians, we are celebrated around the world because we care," Wilson said.

"We are the consummate melting pot, and the opportunity to bring Syrians into Canada in their time of need just seems obvious," he added.