By Mervin Brass

Abdul Rahma Chahadh

Syrian refugee Abdul Rahma Chahadh is seen here video recording the welcoming event at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park. Photo credit: Treaty 4 News.

(Wanuskewin Heritage Park) About 30 Syrian refugees joined hands and took part in a round dance that was part of a welcoming event at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park.

The newly landed immigrants spent the day out at the heritage site learning about First Nation culture and history along the South Saskatchewan River.

“You are safe here with us,” said Dana Soonias, the CEO of the Wanuskewin Heritage Park. “We welcome you with open arms.”

Soonias would like the new comers to come back for more events and activities to really give them a cultural experience.

“You will be afforded the same things as other newcomers received,” said Felix Thomas, the Tribal Chief of the Saskatoon Tribal Council as he welcomed the Syrians to the Treaty 6 Territory. “First Nations have a story, residential schools and welfare agencies took away that story. So it’s the responsibility of those institutions to put that story back in there of the First Nations side.”

Thomas says he hopes the refugees feel safe and that they realize they are in a country of opportunity and be proud of that.

Speaking through an interpreter, Abdul Rahma Chahadh says he saw First Nation culture on television but this was his first time to see a round dance in person.

“He knew a little (about the culture) from reading the booklets he received in Jordan before coming to Canada,” said the interpreter. “He knew that they lived here for thousands of years and that they were peaceful peoples and he knew European settlement happened and that kind of stuff.”

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