January 16, 2015
Mouradian left Syria in 2012 to seek medical treatment in Turkey for one of her two sons. At the time, she and her husband had intended to return to Syria.
But as the situation in their home country deteriorated, that plan changed.
“Everyone wants to feel safe and everyone wants to live in peace…I thought there is no peace, no safety in Syria. So I decided to [leave].”
Every day this week, CBC’s Daybreak introduced a new Montrealer who packed up and moved across borders.
Choosing Montreal made sense for Mouradian because she had relatives and friends already living in Quebec.
They told her about Hay Doun, a non-profit organization that offered a collective sponsorship program.
The Mouradian family arrived in Montreal last September as privately sponsored refugees, supported by the Armenian community.
The family’s first priority was to get the children — Daron, 12, and Gorun, 10 —settled into school.
They’re now living in an apartment in Saint-Laurent, a location they chose so they would be close to AGBU Alex Manoogian, a private Armenian school.
The Armenian General Benevolent Union is raising funds to cover the cost of tuition for Armenian Syrian refugees.
Mouradian said she’s grateful for the school’s support and the personal attention the teachers give each student.
Her sons, who already speak four languages, are now learning French.
AGBU Alex Manoogian school is trying to make the integration process as smooth as possible for more than a dozen Syrian families new to Montreal. It hosted a holiday party to mark the New Year and Armenian Christmas.
The school’s principal said he reassures students arriving as refugees by telling them his own story.
Chahe Tanachian was nine years old when his family fled the war in Lebanon and came to Montreal.
“I was in the same situation, in the same building, in the same school when I came in 1990 and life is great here — there are so many opportunities,” he said.
Tanachian tells his students to, “be hopeful because there’s one way to go forward and [the] days to come are going to be better for sure.”
Mouradian’s sons are working hard in school and discovering what they love most about their new hometown.
“I kind of love the hockey. It’s really really fun,” said Daron.
Mouradian, a medical doctor with 20 years experience, now hopes she and her husband will find full-time work. She said they don’t want to depend on social assistance and they are eager to pay taxes.
They are both studying French five days a week and Mouradian intends to be speaking French within six months.
“I’m a dreamer, you know, but I want to have realistic dreams. Yes, we can work hard and have a good life in Canada, in Quebec.”