'It's a gift': Separated by war, siblings reunite for Christmas in Canada

Three families separated by the war in Syria are spending their first Christmas together in 15 years.

As Canada welcomes Syrian refugees arriving daily, many are reuniting with families they haven’t seen in a long time.

See Full Article

That includes the Panossian family, who are grateful to be spending Christmas together under one roof after being worlds apart for so many years.

Maria Panossian and her husband Harout Abajian, of Toronto, sponsored Maria’s two siblings, Mego and Betty Panossian, and their families, to bring them to Canada. The Syrian-Armenians arrived in early October.

It was a long journey from their homes in Aleppo, Syria. The families fled to Lebanon in 2011. Finally, in October, they arrived on the doorstep of their relatives living in Toronto.

“It’s not easy, but Canada is a great country,” said Mego.

Maria said it is an “amazing feeling” to have her loved ones at her home for Christmas, after years “without having any celebration” with extended family.

Maria’s sister, Betty, came with her husband and two adult sons after life in war-torn Syria changed everything.

“Life became upside down, it turned,” Betty said. “ We felt very uncomfortable, unsafe -- and without a home.”

Getting to Canada was anything but easy – even for family members who were a world away from the conflict.

“We were sitting in front of the TV 24/7, watching the news,” said Maria’s husband, Harout Abajian. “When you have your close family over there, and you don’t know what’s going to happen every minute.

“They were bombing, shelling.”

Despite having arrived in Canada, life isn’t easy just yet.

Mego, who came to Canada with his wife and two young daughters, said his family is still adjusting to their new life.

“Everything is new. The names … the streets, the system is new,” Mego said. “It’s so difficult.”

Betty said all the initial hardships have been worth it.

“It is a gift that me and my family reached Toronto, Canada,” she said.

As the siblings and their families prepare for Christmas Eve on Thursday, the house will become even more crowded. Approximately 20 additional family members from the U.S. and Montreal are also coming to celebrate.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Mego. “I’m so hopeful, I’m so happy that we are celebrating Christmas and New Year’s together after almost 15 years.”

Maria added: “It’s joy -- actually it’s a blessing for me.”



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reeling in the wake of monster blizzard

    Canada News CTV News
    ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- States of emergency, as well as blizzard and storm surge warnings, remained in effect in parts of eastern Newfoundland and Labrador early this morning. The intense snowfall that buried St. John's and many other communities bringing them to a standstill on Friday slowed overnight, and according to Environment Canada was expected to end later this morning. Source
  • Rescue underway for South Koreans missing in Nepal avalanche

    World News CBC News
    Seven trekkers, including four South Koreans, went missing in Nepal's northwest Himalayan region after an avalanche hit their trail, local police and hiking officials said on Saturday. The area where the avalanche struck the group, which also included three local guides, is estimated to be about 150 kilometres northwest of Nepali capital Kathmandu, according to the officials. Source
  • Did a killer walk free after this man's autopsy?

    Canada News CBC News
    A battered body, neck abrasions and signs of a violent struggle. When the RCMP first investigated the death of Preston Lochead at his home in Airdrie, Alta., in 2010, they called in the major crimes unit. Source
  • Record-smashing blizzard holds eastern Newfoundland in grip

    Canada News CBC News
    Much of eastern Newfoundland remained in the grip of a stunning blizzard early Saturday, although wickedly high winds that had racked the island were subsiding. Officials pleaded with residents to stay inside and off roads, which were so dangerous that even government plows could not cope with a record-setting onslaught. Source
  • FBI arrests reveal shocking details in case against former Canadian reservist Patrik Mathews

    Canada News CBC News
    FBI officers have arrested more alleged members of a racially motivated and violent extremist group that a former Manitoba reservist has been accused of recruiting for — and court documents tell a chilling tale that includes plans to murder a married couple and overthrow the U.S. Source
  • Panama man pulled 2 children from clutches of killer cult

    World News CTV News
    EL TERRON, PANAMA -- Indigenous farmer Josue Gonzalez recalled how his pregnant wife and children were taken from their home by cult members in the remote hamlet of El Terron in Panama. Gonzalez was out working his fields of taro and rice Monday when the lay preachers of the "The New Light of God" came for the family and dragged them to an improvised church at a nearby ranch. Source
  • Canadian fire specialists land in Australia to fight wildfire

    World News CTV News
    MELBOURNE -- Canadian fire specialists were greeted with applause when they landed in Melbourne on Saturday to join an international team fighting the devastating Australian wildfires. The team of 28 Canadians will spend the next month in Victoria as part of the state’s emergency response team. Source
  • Newfoundlanders, hunkered down in blistering winter storm, stockpile their #stormchips

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- When you’re about to be buried in two-and-a-half feet of snow, what’s the one food item you want to stock up on? If you live in Newfoundland, there may only be one right answer: chips. Source
  • B.C. woman left in a Calgary parking lot as a newborn 32 years ago finds her birth parents

    Canada News CBC News
    More than three decades after Teanna Elliot was found abandoned in a Calgary parking lot as a newborn, she has found her birth parents. Elliot, 32, is perhaps better known as "Baby Mary." She was discovered by two boys in Calgary on Nov. Source
  • Dentist overcharged more than $5K for ice cream gets reimbursed by bank

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A dentist from Winnipeg has been reimbursed by his bank after he was charged more than $5,000 for two servings of ice cream in Costa Rica. David Kindrat said that when he bought his wife and daughter ice cream in the tourist town of Tamarindo, he thought he was paying in the local currency of Costa Rican colones. Source