January 19, 2022

Good news — and ‘introducing’ Imran, Nadia, Khilqia, and Skekinah, and Ahmad
Thanks to the generosity of the Bow Valley community, the Bow Valley Refugee Project raised over $16,000 in 2021! We are also thrilled to be able to report that the Imran family’s sponsorship application is progressing — the family completed application medical check-ups in December. While we wait for the day when we can welcome Imran, Nadia, Khilqia, and Skekinah, and Ahmad to their new homes, the photos and video below are a way for them to say ‘hello’ and ‘thanks’ to the Bow Valley.

Imran, Skekinah, Nadia and Khilqia.

Ahmad Ali

Video greeting from Skekinah, Khilqia, Imran, and Nadia

December 4, 2021
The Bow Valley Refugee Project is currently supporting two new refugee sponsorships:

Imran and his wife Nadia; and their teenage son and daughter Khilqia and Skekinah.* All four are UNHCR refugees. Imran was the pastor of a Christian church in Pakistan. In April 2015, he was attacked and left for dead by extremists, and the family received numerous death threats due to their Christian beliefs. They fled to the Philippines, and when they were unable to obtain permanent visas there, to Kathmandu, Nepal. They are unable to legally work, or to settle permanently in Nepal. Imran and Nadia are especially concerned about the future for their children, both of whom dream of attending university. *We are using first names only at their request, due to concerns for their safety.”

Nadia, Imran, Khilqia and Shekinah were originally sponsored by The World Is Our Neighbour, an initiative of Banff’s Rundle Memorial United Church, and a strong connection has been built with the family. BVRP is assisting with the fundraising and volunteer effort that is needed to successfully bring this family to the Bow Valley.

Ahmad Ali. Ahmad is the brother of Dani Ali, one of BVRP’s previous sponsorships. Ahmad fled the war in Syria in February 2017 for Malaysia, one of the few countries at that time accepting Syrians without visas. His situation is precarious. Malaysia is not a safe place for refugees as they have no legal status, and face threats of harassment, detention, and deportation. Ahmad is a UNHCR refugee. He has a university degree in English literature, and a teaching certificate. In Kuala Lumpur, he is forced to work under the table seven days a week as a security guard. Ahmad’s hope is to be reunited with his sister, and to find a safe home and meaningful work in Canada.

Updates on our previous sponsorships:

Kahkejian family: Anto, Rima, Tia, Eklas, Srkis and Sevan arrived in Canmore in 2016. Thanks to their own hard work and determination, the Kahkejians are thriving in Canada. Anto immediately found a full-time job, and his employers consider him a leader in his workplace. Anto and Rima welcomed Lily, their second daughter and a sister for Tia, in 2020. Sevan met her husband Leon in Canmore. Their daughter Sophia was also born in 2020. In 2021, with Eklas and Srkis, Sevan’s family moved to Drumheller, where they were able to purchase a house. In summer 2021, the Kahkejian family became Canadian citizens. 

Waill Tatari and Dana Ali: Waill and Dana arrived in summer 2020. Waill found employment within a few months of arrival, and now runs his own freelance web design company. Dana has held several jobs, and is still seeking her perfect employment match. Waill recently moved to Calgary. While they have chosen to separate, Waill and Dana still support one another, and both are eager to give back to the community that welcomed them to Canada.

October 13, 2020

Waill and Dana are thriving in their new home! Waill has found full-time employment in his profession, and Dana is exploring job options in the hospitality sector. Both are curious about what winter will be like in Canada. Waill says he is determined to learn how to ski!

While we continue to support Waill and Dana as they settle in their new home, our group is also looking to the future. We have broadened our focus beyond Syria and changed our name to the Bow Valley Refugee Project to reflect this. We are beginning research to sponsor another family.

July 21, 2020

We have some wonderful news to share — Waill and Dana Tatari, our second Syrian family, are scheduled to arrive in Canada later this week! We are thrilled to be able to welcome them to their new home, thanks to your support of the Bow Valley Syria Refugee Project. Waill and Dana will enter a 14-day Covid-19 quarantine period immediately after they arrive. Their new home in Canmore is ready for them, and we do not require additional supplies or volunteers at this time. What you can do — to make their isolation period a little brighter — is send a welcome email to bowvalleysyria@gmail.com. Welcome Waill and Dana to Canada, and perhaps share your favourite reason for living in the Bow Valley! Later this year, once Covid-19 restrictions lift, we hope to hold a community celebration.

Donations to the Bow Valley Syria Refugee Project are always appreciated. Under the terms of our sponsorship, we will provide living expenses and support to Waill and Dana for one year. Following that, our goal is to extend the gift of Canada to a third refugee family. You can donate online at bowvalleyrefugee.ca/donate

Thank you for your support!

March 2020

We have wonderful news to share! Waill and Dana, our second Syrian family, have received notice that their permanent resident visas have been approved, and we are eagerly awaiting news of a travel date to Canada! We are hopeful they will arrive in Canmore within the next six weeks!

Thanks to your ongoing support, we are ready to welcome Waill and Dana to their new home. We have a furnished apartment waiting for them, and once they have settled, we will organize a community celebration. At the moment, we do not require additional volunteers.

In belated news, our May 2019 concert by the Orontes Guitar Quartet was a wonderful success, raising over $7500.00. Thanks to everyone who attended!

Stay tuned for news of Waill and Dana’s arrival — and thank you again for your support!

December 2018

Just over a year ago, we celebrated the success of our first Syrian sponsorship, and began raising funds for our second family at the Bow Valley Syria HOPE dinner.

Very sadly, Salma passed away in May due to a long-standing medical condition. Salma’s son Waill Tatari and his wife Dana are bereft, and finding it increasingly difficult to keep their spirits up. Without papers, they cannot work in Malaysia, where they fled after receiving death threats in Syria. We are continuing to lobby on Waill and Dana’s behalf, and are hopeful that their refugee applications will be approved and that they will arrive in Canmore sometime in 2019.

Thanks to your support, we raised $15,000 at the HOPE dinner. Our fundraising target to raise an additional $25,000 will enable us to complete the funding needed for the one-year sponsorship period and provide seed funding for future sponsorships. Please consider giving the gift of Canada this Christmas. For more information or to donate: bowvalleyrefugee.ca/donate

The Kahkejians continue to thrive here in the Bow Valley. Sevan, Eklas and Srkis have recently moved into a new home closer to downtown Canmore and, in wonderful news, Sevan is getting married in the new year!

As we head into the holiday season, we are grateful to all our donors for making this happy ending for the Kahkejians possible – and we thank you for your continued support of the Tatari family. Best wishes from all of us at the Bow Valley Syria project!

November 2017

Thank you to everyone who purchased tickets to our Bow Valley Syria Fundraising Dinner! With your support, we raised over $15,000 to help us bring a second Syrian family to the Bow Valley. Those of you who purchased dinner tickets, or made donations, will receive a tax receipt from Ralph Connor Memorial United Church. Receipts will be issued in early 2018, in time for tax filing deadlines.

We are continuing to work to bring the Tatari family to the Bow Valley, and to reach our fundraising goal of $50,000. You can help us bring HOPE to our second family by making online donations to Bow Valley Syria — every little bit helps!

Thank you again for your support!

October 2017

Thank you to everyone who purchased tickets!

Savour a Great Dinner. Change a Life.
Fundraising Dinner: Thursday October 26, 6 pm
Bill Warren Training Facility, Canmore Nordic Centre
$125.00 per person

Join us for a wonderful evening that will bring HOPE to the second Syrian refugee family we are working to bring to our community. Savour a four-course meal with wine pairings. Be inspired by an impactful speaker and local entertainers, and by knowing you are helping to change lives, and share the gift of Canada. We are so proud of this Valley and the love and support that has helped our first Syrian family to settle happily in our community. Help us make this dream come true for a second family.

Dinner includes welcome drink, amuse bouchée, four courses with wine pairings, and food and wine insights from our chef and sommelier.

$75.00 tax receipt available. $75.00 from each purchased ticket will go directly to fund the sponsorship of our second Syrian family.

Purchase tickets

Our thanks to our dinner sponsors: Lockwood Doyle CPA, Starlight Lighting, and SOLKOR.

August 2017

As this sunny smoky summer heads into its final weeks, we wanted to bring all our Bow Valley Syria Project volunteers up to date on the Kahkejian family, and to ask for your continued support as we work to bring a second Syrian family to the Bow Valley.

The Kahkejians have all found new homes in Canmore, moving from Spring Creek in July. Anto, Rima and baby Tia have settled into a CCHC apartment, and – thanks to the generosity of one of our donors – Sevan, Eklas and Srkis have also found an affordable Canmore home. Both Anto and Sevan are working full-time this summer, with Sevan, Rima, and Eklas planning to return to English language classes when they resume this fall. In case you missed it, the Rocky Mountain Outlook published a lovely profile on the Kahkejians earlier this summer: http://www.rmoutlook.com/article/Former-refugees-adjust-to-Canadian-life-second-Syrian-family-coming-to-valley-20170608

We are continuing to work to sponsor a second Syrian family. Thanks to your support, we have raised $6000 this year towards our total 2017 goal of $40,000. In October, we will host a fundraising dinner — if you are interested in helping with this event, please contact Stephanie: solthuis@designcore.ca Be sure to purchase tickets once they become available — not only will the funds assist our second family, you’ll also enjoy a fabulous dinner! You can also make online donations to Bow Valley Syria — every little bit helps!

Our second Syrian family consists of a woman, her husband and mother-in-law who have fled Syria to Malaysia. Their situation is precarious. Malaysia is not a safe place for refugees as they have no legal status, and face threats of harassment, detention, and deportation. With a family connection in the Bow Valley, we believe this is the right place for this family to make a new home. You can read more about their situation in our February update.

February 7, 2017

Update on the Kahkejian family: Anto, Rima, Tia, Eklas, Srkis and Sevan have made a remarkable transition to life in Canmore! Anto is working full-time and Sevan has found part-time work. Baby Tia took her first steps last month! All family members are committed to improving their English — participating in language classes, working with tutors, and accessing online resources. Thanks to our many volunteers, the Kahkejians have been able to access health services and make connections within our community. As Anto told us at the community potluck, their goal is to become productive citizens of Canada, and perhaps someday be able to give back by helping another family as they have been helped. We are currently seeking volunteers to help organize community outings for the family. Interested? Please contact Shelby at  shelby.anne.marie@hotmail.com

Donations Needed to Support New Refugee Family
Bow Valley Syria has submitted an application to sponsor a second Syrian refugee family. This family is in a very precarious situation — and your support is needed.

After checkpoints showed up in their neighbourhood, after the ‘ghost’ forces began assaulting and ‘disappearing’ neighbours, and and after seeing dead bodies lying on the streets, our sponsored family made the decision to flee Damascus to Egypt in February 2013. The family consists of a woman, her husband and mother-in-law. By August 2013, the June uprising in Egypt had turned violent and, feeling like it was Syria beginning again, they fled Egypt to Malaysia, one of the only two countries at that time that accepted Syrians without visas. They remain in Malaysia today but, unfortunately, it is not a safe place for refugees as they have no legal status. An Amnesty International report documented that an average of 6,000 refugees are caned and whipped annually for immigration ‘violations’ in Malaysia and refugees are commonly kidnapped by human traffickers or detained in holding cells by authorities.

With a family connection in the Bow Valley, we believe this is the right place for this family to relocate. All are fluent English speakers, and the mother also speaks French; the wife and husband are graphic designers, and former students at the University of Damascus.

You can help Bow Valley Syria assemble the resources to sponsor this family by making a donation on our website. Thank you for your support!

November 8, 2016

Please join us for a community celebration to welcome the Kahkejian family to the Bow Valley! Thanks to your support of the Bow Valley Syria Project, Antranik, Rema, Tia, Sevan, Srkis, and Eklas, have a home here in the Bow Valley, and a bright future in Canada! We hope you can join us as we welcome them to our community, and celebrate what we have collectively accomplished over the past year.

Potluck Supper, Friday November 18, 6 pm
Ralph Connor Memorial United Church Hall
617 Main Street, Canmore
RSVP: November 16

Doors open: 5:30 pm. Please bring a potluck dish to share, and your own cutlery and dishes. Please RSVP by November 16.

October 27, 2016

Today all the members of our Syrian family sat down together to share their first meal in their new home in Canmore! Sevan, Srkis, Eklas, Antanik, Rima, and baby Tia are all here — safe and sound in Canada.

Thanks to each and every one of you for your support over the past year!

September 26, 2016

Hello everyone! A small miracle occurred today at the Calgary airport. The first member of our Syrian family arrived safely in Canada! She has already settled into our Spring Creek home, and she asked that we let all our volunteers know how very grateful she and her family are for our support.

Because this young woman is traveling on her own, her family has asked that we respect her privacy until more members of the family arrive. We expect that her brother, his wife, and their infant child will arrive in late October – and then, with the family’s permission – we will hold a community celebration!

We are continuing to lobby on behalf of the final two members of the family who have not been given travel dates as yet.

In the meantime, our thanks go out to all of you for your support over the past year! Our small airport welcome group felt very proud of our Bow Valley community as we drove home on this beautiful fall day.

September 8, 2016

Hello everyone! We have wonderful news to share! Our Syrian family has been given travel dates to Canada! The information we have at this point is that family members will begin arriving as early as September 21.

It’s taken us almost a year to get to this point! Thanks to your support, this family of six — who fled the fighting in Aleppo and are currently facing very challenging conditions in Beirut — will soon settle in to a new home here in our beautiful Bow Valley.

Home Support Update

To get ready for the family’s arrival, our tireless home support team lead Cheryl has put a call-out for a group of volunteers to join her at a tidy-up day on SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 18 at the mobile home in Spring Creek.

If you’ve got some time for one or more of these tasks, please contact Cheryl directly at mc_fraser@rogers.com or 416-508-7292:July 1, 2016

Happy Canada Day! Update #8

Hello Bow Valley Syria volunteers! As we wake up to a beautiful Canada Day here in the Bow Valley, our Syrian family is still waiting in Beirut for news about when they will travel to Canmore. We have recently learned that there are still a few more steps in the immigration process that need to be completed before they can board the plane for Calgary. While this is disappointing — we had previously understood all approvals were complete — we are confident it is just a matter of time before we receive news about their arrival. Our working committee is in email and phone contact with the family, and while anxious to see their new home, they are in good spirits.

Thanks to all of you who turned out for the June 21 potluck and workshop, and to everyone who has contributed time and energy to preparing the home in Spring Creek!

These articles from the New York Times and the Globe and Mail about Canada’s response to the refugee crisis warmed our hearts! Happy Canada Day!


May 16, 2016

Wonderful news! Update #7

Our Syrian family completed their second round of interviews today at the embassy in Beirut. They were told they are approved to enter Canada, and that they will likely travel to Alberta sometime in the next few weeks!  Wonderful news to match this beautiful day in the Bow Valley! On behalf of everyone on the Bow Valley Syria working committee, our sincere thanks to all our donors and volunteers for their support. We will keep you updated as we receive more news.

April 14, 2015

Still Waiting / Help Us Advocate to Support Refugees

Thanks to generous support from the Bow Valley community, we have a lovely home waiting for a Syrian family, and many volunteers willing to help them settle in our community. Unfortunately, due to Government of Canada delays in processing refugee applications, we still have no word on when that family may arrive.

We are in direct contact with a Syrian family of six who are facing increasingly difficult conditions in Lebanon. While our applications team continues to lobby on their behalf, we are asking community volunteers like you to urge Canada’s Minister of Immigration John McCallum to speed up the arrival of privately sponsored refugees. You can help us advocate on behalf of thousands of Syrian refugees caught in limbo by forwarding a letter or email to the Government of Canada. You can find suggested text and mailing instructions here.

For background on this issue, see the following CBC news report


Housing and Home Support Update

With help from many willing hands, our two-bedroom modular home is furnished and move-in ready! Thanks to everyone who donated furnishings, household items, and kitchen utensils, and also to Spring Creek for their generous support.

Settlement Support Update

Our Settlement Support team is facing a “hurry-up and wait” situation due to uncertainty about when our refugee family may arrive. Most volunteer support aimed at helping newcomers settle in the Bow Valley cannot begin until a family actually arrives. In the meantime, the team has been working with local service providers to help ready formal supports for the family. Working closely with Settlement Services in the Bow Valley and the Bow Valley Immigration Partnership, the team has helped plan for specialized supports in the areas of English language learning, interpretation, and medical care.


February 22, 2015

Housing and Home Support Update

Volunteers on this crew have put in a LOT of time over the past few weeks with a well-coordinated Valley-wide effort to pick up, temporarily store, and categorize the incredible outpouring of donations in household goods. Then they spent a day at our two-bedroom mobile home in Spring Creek cleaning and making sure it was move-in ready (our partners at Spring Creek had done a fine job of this to begin with).

Applications Update

After stacks of paperwork was scanned, checked and signed, and a dizzying number of emails went back and forth, our key applications team of Katherine Binhammer, Cam McMann and Karen Fraser have two very solid and well-documented applications in to the United Church of Canada’s refugee office. We are in regular contact with a family of six currently living in Beirut as refugees, and we hope to update you soon on the success of our application to bring this family to the Bow Valley.

Fundraising Update

As we mentioned in the last update, we have reached our initial fundraising goal of $80,000. This is thanks to many of you who donated as soon as we sent out our initial appeal, including Dr. Elizabeth Hall-Findlay, who donated $5,000 to BVSRP, one of our largest single donors. We are so thankful for all the donations, in time, money and goods that have been pouring in.

We also secured support from the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission, which agreed to waive fares for BVSRP refugees in our community for one year. Canmore councilor Sean Krausert thanked us for reminding the council of the value of transit support for lower-income newcomers when we presented at their committee meeting last week.

Settlement Update

We’ll be sending an additional update shortly with everything that’s happening with the Settlement and Support team, but if you’re interested in learning more about training as a literacy tutor (many of you have indicated this as an area of interest), the Bow Valley Literacy Program has a new tutor orientation session on Monday, February 22 at 5 pm at the Canmore Library. Contact Deb Penninga at bowvalleyliteracy@gmail.com for more information.


February 14, 2016

For Valentine’s Day, we’re celebrating the support of the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission for their agreement to waive transit fares on regional transit for BVSRP sponsored refugees in the community for one year. This was generously supported by members of both the Canmore and Banff town councils after hearing presentations from BVSRP over the past month. Thank you!

Our busy Home Support team has been narrowing down the wish list of household goods, and the remaining items on the list are:

A narrow one-foot wide shelf unit
A six-seater kitchen table and chairs
Two small mountable bathroom shelves
Curtain rods
Cell phones
Folding laundry drying rack
Laundry baskets
Folding step ladder
Light bulbs

If you have any of these items (new or used) that you’d like to donate, please email us at bowvalleysyria@gmail.com and we’ll forward your email to the Home Support team.

The team will also be moving furniture into our Spring Creek unit and decorating on Sunday, February 21, so get in touch with us if you’re interested in helping out with that!


January 31, 2016

We’ve signed the lease on our two-bedroom mobile home in Spring Creek, and we will be starting to move furniture in there shortly. Our home support team has been busy collecting donations of furniture and household goods, and the response to our call for donations has been overwhelming. Thank you!

We are still looking for specific items for this unit. If you have any of the following items to donate, please contact us directly at bowvalleysyria@gmail.com and we can arrange for pickup or dropoff:

Kitchen table and chairs (for 5 or 6)
Kids’ dishes (enamel / plastic)
Kitchen cleaning supplies
Bedroom lamps / lighting
Garbage and recycling bins
Lawn mower (there is a very small area of grass adjacent to the Spring Creek unit)
Rakes, yard implements
Garden hose
Patio furniture

Thank you to everyone who has come forward to donate, to pick up and store items, and to move furniture, help us furnish the unit, and generally make the Spring Creek unit more of a home for our family!


December 15, 2015

We’ve been working hard over the past few weeks to get organized, and here’s what we’ve accomplished:

  • Our online donation site is now live! We’re aiming to raise $80,000, enough to enable us to support up to eight refugees for one year. Our thanks to ATBCares and Canmore Rotary for their support!
  • We’ve recruited our Team Leads/Executive Committee. If you have volunteered for a specific area, you will be contacted soon by your team lead.
  • We’re working to ensure suitable housing will be available, and while we have a good solution in the works, we’re also on the lookout for interim or alternate housing options. If you have a lead to pass along, please contact us at bowvalleysyria@gmail.com
  • We plan to submit our formal sponsorship application as soon as possible. Right now, private sponsorship groups such as ours are experiencing delays in accessing the refugee lists maintained by the Government of Canada. Hopefully this backlog will clear up in the coming weeks.
  • We’ve just corrected an error on this website. The error was deleting web form inquiries submitted prior to December 15. If you submitted an inquiry, and haven’t heard back from us, we are sincerely sorry. Please contact us again.