In the last year alone, the St. Jacques Syriac Orthodox Church in Montreal has sponsored and supported 200 families from Syria in making their way to a new life in Canada.
St. Jacques is not just a sponsor, but a gateway for Syrian newcomers into the community, providing support in finding housing, completing required documentation, and creating opportunities to participate in the life of their new city.
Quite by accident, Zeina Malky, and active member of the St. Jacques community, connected with Caroline Lavoie, a publicist for the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon, and together they decided to arrange participation in the 5K for some of the younger newcomers. Lavoie arranged for free registration for the race, which took place on Sunday.
The group ranged from age thirteen to twenty-six. Zeina said each relished the opportunity to participate and regretted that the race was only 5K, but used the leftover adrenaline to conduct an interview with Radio Canada, during which they performed songs from their church.
The atmosphere along the course, where the group was greeted by cheers, given high fives, and handed water along the way, was for Zeina a chance for them to experience support, love, and encouragement after the incredibly difficult circumstances they’ve lived through.
With newcomers often represented through statistics rather than as individuals, Zeina was grateful for the opportunity for her group of young Syrians “to show what kind of people we are and what our church stands for.” The race, she says, also gave each a sense of pride in their new community and country, one of the younger runners remarking, “We will always make Canada proud because she brought us to her country.”
– Ravi Singh (@ravimatsingh)