After a long flight from Kuala Lumpur, the San family arrived at the Cranbrook airport on Friday, Dec. 10 and were welcomed by West Kootenay Friends of Refugees (WKFoR) chairperson Kathy Moore.
To facilitate their transition to Canada and Rossland, arrangements were made for them to spend their first night with a Burmese family, who have been living in Cranbrook for some time and had previously been sponsored by the East Kootenay Friends of Burma.
In preparation for the significant change in climate, Moore crammed her car with warm clothing and also provided a car seat for the youngest member of the family: a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler.
On the morning of Saturday, Dec. 11 the Sans were driven through the spectacular winter scenery of the Kootenay Pass to their new home in Rossland.
The Rossland group of sponsors has been fundraising for two years for the arrival of a new family, and more recently worked to set up a home for the new arrivals.
In an earlier press release WKFoR asked for an angel to step forward to help with a suitable living space for the San family and were fortunate the request was answered, giving them a living space for the first six months of their new life in Canada, said Moore.
“After that time period, the sponsor group will be looking for other accommodation,” she said.
As the Sans settle into Rossland, the WKFoR group members will be visiting daily to help with language acquisition, budgeting, using the bus, shopping and all the routines of Canadian life.
“The goal is for this family to be integrated and independent by the end of a year,” said Moore.
Under the blended sponsorship program, the local group’s fundraising will be supplemented by social assistance from the federal government for the first six months.
The San family fled ethnic and religious persecution in Burma based on their Christian beliefs and have been living for several years in Malaysia, a country that offers respite but no permanent asylum to refugees.
Burma was on the list of five countries identified by the Canadian government in 2013 as having refugees most in need and best able to resettle in Canada.
For more information or to offer help, please contact Kathy Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 250-362-3319.