How Syrian refugees arriving in Canada became ‘extras’ in their own stories

ESPMI Network

syrian-refugees-20151211 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets 16-month-old Madeleine Jamkossian, right, and her father Kevork Jamkossian, refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war, during their arrival at Pearson International airport, in Toronto, on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

When he saw images of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne greeting some of the first Syrian refugees to arrive in Canada, Kamal Al-Solaylee was overcome with pride. After all, 20 years ago, he was the one arriving in Canada.

“My initial feelings were of euphoria and happiness. This is a great country, this is a very welcoming country,” says Al-Solaylee, a journalism professor at Ryerson University and the author of the 2015 Canada Reads finalist Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes.

But as he saw more and more news stories about sponsors hugging refugees in airports and Canadians knitting toques to keep refugees warm during their first Canadian winter, he began to…

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