Ruta and her sons arrived at Castlegar Airport on Wednesday

Eritrean refugees arrive in Rossland

Ruta Zakarias Yohannes and her two sons arrived in Rossland on Wednesday, August 26.

The West Kootenay Friends of Refugees (WKFoR) welcomed their second sponsored family on Wednesday, August 26.

Twenty-nine year old Ruta Zakarias Yohannes is a refugee from Eritrea, Africa. She arrived from a refugee camp in Cairo with her two sons, Eyobed Gideon Melake, who turned five the day they arrived, and Yonathan Gideon Melake, age four.

Ruta fled Eritrea after her husband didn’t come home one day. She hasn’t seen him since.

“What was happening was that officials were putting pressure on her to say where her husband was, and the story we have anyway, is that she didn’t know where he was,” said Jan Micklethwaite, a WKFoR volunteer, “but that it’s very common in Eritrea for people to disappear and never be seen again. You know, the jails are filled with political prisoners.”

Ruta escaped Eritrea and made it to Cairo where she and her boys lived for a year and a half, and where she applied to immigrate to Canada as a refugee.

Two other women from the camp have also immigrated to the Kootenays. Both Helen and Salam live in Nelson, and know Ruta from the camp.

“What’s really cool is that they had met … Ruta when they were all in the refugee camp in Cairo,” said Micklethwaite. “So when we had decided to sponsor her we didn’t know about them and we didn’t know there was this connection.”

Helen and Salam surprised Ruta and her children at the airport on Wednesday, along with members of the WKFoR.

Ruta speaks some English, but her primary language is Tigrinya and knowing other Eritreans in the area will give her the opportunity to keep speaking it.

The WKFoR will help Ruta learn more English and train for a job.

Eyobed will be starting school in September, but Yonathan will need other opportunities to start learning English, like the Strong Start program. The program requires parents to attend with their children, so Ruta would also have the opportunity to learn more English, and would get to meet other parents with children the same age.

The Canadian government will give Ruta a small stipend for the first six months she’s in Canada, and the WKFoR will help pay for anything not covered by the stipend and for any expenses during the following six months, at which point they hope she’ll have a job that will allow her to support herself.

Ruta is currently living in lower Rossland, but the WKFoR is looking for an apartment for her that is closer to the school, as she doesn’t have a car.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Mountain Pineapple defers application for new cannabis store in Rossland

The application was originally going to be reviewed by city council on May 19

Morning start: Rossland is named after this person

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Friday, May 22

Snow expected to hit West Kootenay passes overnight on Thursday

Up to 15 cm of snow could fall on Highway 3 between Paulson summit to Kootenay Pass by Friday morning

Fact: B.C. bats don’t carry or spread COVID

BC Annual Bat Count goes this summer, citizens encouraged to take part

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

82% of all test-positive COVID-19 cases in B.C. have recovered

B.C. had 303 active cases as of Saturday, May 23

Most Read