Wherever he goes, Ahmad Raseen Salem carries memories of his homeland, and of the people and places he once knew so well. He misses the scent of jasmine in the air, the sounds of kids playing in the street, even the neighbourhood grouch, a shopkeeper named Ali who had a habit of “screaming on the kids all day long.”
That world was destroyed seven years ago, when his family home was bombed by Syrian government forces, killing nine of Salem’s neighbours, five of whom were children under the age of six.
Now 28, Salem was separated from his family for three years, as he moved first to another Syrian province and then to Turkey, where he found work as an English-Arabic translator and was eventually able to have his parents and two younger sisters join him.
Since arriving in Winnipeg as Mennonite church-sponsored refugees in December 2016, the family is building new memories in their adopted country, and Salem says he’s found a home of sorts at Red River College’s Exchange District Campus, where he hopes to one day teach other newcomers.
A new graduate of RRC’s Youth Recreation Activity Worker program, with plans to return to RRC this fall as a student in the Child and Youth Care program, Salem is a recipient of one of two $1,000 Peace Awards, presented annually to students who came to Canada as refugees or refugee claimants.
Peace Awards honour the “courage, strength and determination of students who were forced to flee their homes and countries under threat of persecution, conflict and violence” and who have “persevered in reaching their educational goals, while overcoming challenges and adapting to a new life in Canada.”
Salem and fellow $1,000 Peace Award recipient Kohplorsay Desjardins, an Educational Assistant program graduate, exemplify those qualities, as does Murhambo Basimike, a Municipal Engineering Technology student who was presented with a one-time bonus Peace Award of $750. Read More →