Resettling in Toronto: A story for The Toronto Star - Intro words by Catherine Porter


-- The Bakours were among the first Syrian refugees to arrive in Canada. They came on Dec. 7, four days before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeted arrivals at the new refugee reception area of Pearson airport.

They were sponsored jointly by the Canadian government and by the Metropolitan United Church, through the Blended Visa Office–Referred program.

meet the Bakours. The Star visited them over the past two months. 

Hussein Bakour and his wife, Wahida Salameh, decided to flee their home outside Damascus as they were walking back from a burial.



The family is made up of Hussein (35) and Wahida (34), their twin boys Fawaz and Ali (10), then Mohammed (7), Rahaf (6), and Malak (2). They arrived in Toronto mid December as refugees from Syria, by way of a refugee camp in Lebanon. They endured a long journey from their war torn hometown to their new home in Toronto's east end area of Scarborough. Catherine and I were around for some of the families firsts in Toronto. From their first school days,  to first birthdays, tears, and laughter.

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Wahida, with the help of a church member, walks the children to school as they settle into their new home in Toronto's east end of Scarborough on January 11, ​

Wahida, with the help of a church member, walks the children to school as they settle into their new home in Toronto's east end of Scarborough on January 11,

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Malak wipes her eyes as as the family is treated for lunch at the Mediterranean restaurant in Toronto on December 31, 2015.

Malak wipes her eyes as as the family is treated for lunch at the Mediterranean restaurant in Toronto on December 31, 2015.

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​Hussein nervously meets church members during a welcoming tea at Metropolitan United Church in honour of the church sponsored Bakour family on January 9, 2016.

Hussein nervously meets church members during a welcoming tea at Metropolitan United Church in honour of the church sponsored Bakour family on January 9, 2016.

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​After a family visit to a clothing depot for newly arrived refugees, Mohammed tries on some of his new clothes at home on December 31, 2015.

After a family visit to a clothing depot for newly arrived refugees, Mohammed tries on some of his new clothes at home on December 31, 2015.

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Translator Hisham shows Hussein and Wahida their hometown on google maps as Rahaf plays with tissues in their Scarborough home on December 16, 2015.

Translator Hisham shows Hussein and Wahida their hometown on google maps as Rahaf plays with tissues in their Scarborough home on December 16, 2015.

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Hussein and Wahida giggle during their first ESL class on January 11, 2016. ​

Hussein and Wahida giggle during their first ESL class on January 11, 2016.

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Ali amuses himself with the music of a volunteer at a clothing depot for newly arrived refugees on December 31, 2015.

Ali amuses himself with the music of a volunteer at a clothing depot for newly arrived refugees on December 31, 2015.

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The children sip chocolate milk at a breakfast program on their first day of school on December 16, 2015. From left, Malak Fawaz, Ali, and Mohammed. 3

The children sip chocolate milk at a breakfast program on their first day of school on December 16, 2015. From left, Malak Fawaz, Ali, and Mohammed.

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Hussein picks out clothing for himself at a clothing depot for newly arrived refugees on December 31, 2015

Hussein picks out clothing for himself at a clothing depot for newly arrived refugees on December 31, 2015

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Sponsor Karen Scott plays with the children in the fountain at the Eatons Centre on December 23, 2015. ​

Sponsor Karen Scott plays with the children in the fountain at the Eatons Centre on December 23, 2015.

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The Bakour family and sponsor Karen Scott enjoy hotdogs as they make their way to Nathan Phillips Square on December 23, 2015. ​

The Bakour family and sponsor Karen Scott enjoy hotdogs as they make their way to Nathan Phillips Square on December 23, 2015.

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Hussein holds daughter Rahaf as the Bakours and sponsor Karen make their way home after their first trip on the subway on December 22, 2015.

Hussein holds daughter Rahaf as the Bakours and sponsor Karen make their way home after their first trip on the subway on December 22, 2015.

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Rah, 2, plays in the pews at Metropolitan United Church as the Bakour family sets out to thank their sponsors from the church on December 23, 2015. ​

Rahaf, 2, plays in the pews at Metropolitan United Church as the Bakour family sets out to thank their sponsors from the church on December 23, 2015.

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Wahida blows out her birthday candles as sponsor Karen and daughter Rahaf watch. A first for her and her husband as they settle into their new home in Toronto's east end, on December 16, 2015.

Wahida blows out her birthday candles as sponsor Karen and daughter Rahaf watch. A first for her and her husband as they settle into their new home in Toronto's east end, on December 16, 2015.

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Mohammed nervously stands for the national anthem amongst his class on his first day of school on December 16, 2015. ​

Mohammed nervously stands for the national anthem amongst his class on his first day of school on December 16, 2015.

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