Gidewen Melake arrived in Kelowna last Wednesday and was reunited with his family. (Courtesy of the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees)

Eritrean family reunited in B.C.

A father was finally reunited with his wife and children who have been in Rossland since 2015.

After being separated from them for approximately seven years, a father was finally reunited with his wife and children who have been living in Rossland since 2015.

Gidewen Melake arrived in Canada last Wednesday at the Kelowna International Airport, where his family and volunteers from the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees (WKFoR) eventually arrived to meet him — though due to a scheduling error they weren’t there when he landed.

“All refugees, their travel is routed through an organization called the International Organization for Migration [IOM]. So IOM had booked all his plane tickets and they’d sent us the schedule, and so the schedule we received said that he would be arriving at 7:50 in the evening in Kelowna,” explained Jan Micklethwaite, a WKFoR volunteer.

But Melake’s plane arrived at 5 p.m. instead, when his family was still on route to Kelowna.

“By the time everybody arrived we were all feeling a little bit emotional because we were sorry that we hadn’t been there to greet him when he first got there and the little boys were getting very anxious to see their dad,” said Micklethwaite. “They just ran through the airport and just jumped at him and it was very emotional for us to watch.”

After sponsoring the rest of his family, who had fled Eritrea, WKFoR was able to sponsor Melake under the “one-year window.”

“Which means that if you come as a refugee, you have one year to apply for anybody who was originally listed on your application as a family member,” explains Micklethwaite.

Melake’s wife, Ruta Zakarias Yohannes, had originally listed him as her next of kin on her sponsorship application, even though at the time she didn’t know where he was or if he was still alive.

It was after she arrived in Canada that a relative contacted her and let her know that Melake was in Uganda.

Now that he’s in Canada, Melake will receive resettlement funding from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for six months, while he attends English classes — though he already learned some English while in Uganda — and looks for employment.

WKFoR also has two other applications in progress.

One is a cousin of the Burmese family living in Rossland and the other is for the father and brother of a young Syrian woman living in Fruitvale.

Micklethwaite wanted to thank Rosslanders for the generosity they have shown so far in supporting bringing displaced families to Canada and encourages them to make Gidewen Melake feel welcome.

Just Posted

Rossland Public Library receives over $80,000 toward renewal project

The library has received a second grant worth over $80,000 towards its renewal project.

Rossland Council approves rezoning for two new developments at Red

Rossland City Council approved two bylaws regarding new developments out at Red Mountain.

Rossland Citizen Budget results are in

The results from Citizen Budget were released to the public at the end of last month.

Quiet start to 2018 for South Columbia Search and Rescue

South Columbia members are focusing on updating training

Updated: Kootenay communities benefit from gas tax dollars

The project is one of 112 approved in B.C. communities this year

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Starbucks to unveil latest creation: crystal ball frappuccino

The limited-edition, iced coffee will be available starting March 22 for four days, or while supplies last

Eight B.C. restaurants among website’s top 100 in Canada for night out

Seven in Vancouver and one in White Rock make OpenTable’s list of popular spots

B.C.-pioneered wood construction on a roll internationally

Washington state considers mandatory engineered wood for public buildings

Cops say gun-toting robbers used fake police lights to pull over victims

Information wanted on North Shuswap robbery, police impersonation, burnt vehicle, motorhome theft.

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles and Powell River Kings close to advancing

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Plane filled with smoke lands at Nanaimo Airport

WestJet flight came in from Vancouver

VSO to perform ‘Star Wars’ music while 1977 movie plays on big screen

Three shows for the classic at iconic Orpheum Theatre this summer

B.C. emergency alert system being tested Wednesday

Alarm tone and message will play on TV and radio

Most Read