Syrians newly arrived in Langley gathered for a recent barbecue hosted by local Mounties.
Several dozen families came to the Oct. 19 event on the steps of the Langley RCMP headquarters in Murrayville.
While the children played and officers flipped things on the grill, adults chatted under a large tent set up to ward off the rain.
The idea of the gathering is to make sure the Syrians – refugee families who began arriving in Canada last January – know that they can approach the local police, said Supt. Murray Power.
“Demystify and make the detachment a safe place for our new Syrian-Canadians,” he said.
Power said he wants to “take any fear that may be in place off the table.”
Their experiences with police under the Syrian dictatorship that existed before the civil war may have been very different from what Canadians expect, Power said.
Nashaat Obid arrived with his wife and seven children on Jan. 21. Before that, the family had been refugees in Jordan.
“It’s really, really important what they did, to keep the relationships between us and the police,” Obid said through a translator.
“I can’t compare between the police there and here, because they are human, and they treat us as human,” he said of the local officers.
When he first arrived in Langley, Obid said he met two police officers who gave him their cards and offered to help him out. He was surprised.
“It’s a new thing for us,” he said of that kind of relationship with the police.
Obid said that the first thing the family wanted to do when they got here was to get their children into school.
“It’s really important for me to find a job as soon as possible,” he said.
He wants to support his family.