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Refugee family facing economic hardship in Border City

A family of refugees who came to Lloydminster in the early days of 2016 may soon leave the city.

The Bittar family, who fled their homeland and came to Canada on January 1, have been living in the Border City for the last nine months. They had waited a year to enter Canada, after leaving Aleppo, Syria, a city that became a battleground after civil war broke out in 2012.

The family is made up Adel Bittar, along with his wife Rana, son Naim, and daughter Sama. When they first arrived, they were greeted warmly by members of the congregation of St.Antonys Roman Catholic Church, sitting down for a potluck supper and speaking to the press about their happiness in arriving to their home.

Both Adel and Rana sat down with 106.1 The Goat last Tuesday to talk about their experience in Lloydminster. According to the Bittars, their reception by residents of the city has been very positive. However, the family has now come up between a rock and a hard place, with dismal economic opportunity in the city now forcing them to plan an exit from Lloydminster.

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“We would like to stay, and keep living in Lloydminster,” said Adel.

“But the problem, when we talk about reality, it’s about jobs, to find a position in this community. Unfortunately, it seems that Lloydminster, business-wise, or vacancy wise, it’s not welcoming.”

Adel has experience in the fields of hospitality, after spending many years working as a travel agent. As for Rana, she has had experience in the field of development. Both had hoped to land jobs in Lloydminster, but have had little luck, saying they have been told they are overqualified for low-level jobs and never getting calls back for higher-level work.

Rana said she had been told she lacked ‘Canadian experience.’

“Here, the jobs are very small,” said Rana.

“I was working for the German government and for the United Nations, so here, it’s very small for me. They say ‘you know, you are maybe overqualified, but you still miss the Canadian experience’. If the U.N trusted me, as a consultant, and if the Germans, who are the best in the business for the development sector, trusted me, I would not be trusted to manage volunteers? That’s funny.”

Despite the economic hardship, the Bittar’s have had a positive experience in Lloydminster, with both their children attending school in the community. Both said they don’t regret coming to the Border City.

“I will never say that, because we meet people, and it’s all about people here, in our life,” said Adel.

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“What we went through, in the refugee period, we moved, displaced many times, we feel home here. We found real friends, they love us as a person, not because they have to. No, we don’t regret. But, business-wise, we regret because if we were starting in the same period, somewhere else, maybe it would be easier.”

The timeframe for the family to set out for a new destination is set for January 1.


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