Syrian refugees enjoy a very Canadian road trip
Published Thursday, June 8, 2017 11:17PM EDT
What could be more Canadian than a summer road trip, maybe with a little camping?
Thanks to a Canadian start-up company one Syrian refugee family is going to find out.
RVezy bills itself as Canada’s first peer-to-peer RV sharing marketplace, sort of the AirBnB of recreational vehicles. The company was looking for a way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. The company’s co-founders are an Ottawa police officer and a Canadian Reservist who served in Afghanistan. They decided to give an all-expenses-paid RV trip to a family of new Canadians.
“We've seen some of the struggles that a lot of new Canadians have coming to this country and we thought what's more Canadian than providing an RV experience to these new Canadians?" says RVezy’s Michael McNaught.
They put the word out to the Ottawa refugee community and ended up meeting the Toubeh family from Syria, mother Wejdan, her sons Ward (23) and Wessam (18) and her daughter Aziza (12).
For the Toubehs, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
“This is something amazing,” says Ward Toubeh. “We don’t have RVs in Syria so this is something new for me.”
If anyone can use a Canadian getaway it’s the Toubehs. They’ve endured much hardship to get to their new home. They fled war-torn Damascus and moved to Lebanon only to have heartache follow them when Wejdan’s husband died while working there.
The family then applied to come to Canada in 2015, hoping for a fresh start but speaking neither English nor French, and knowing little about their new home. “We don’t know anything,” says Wessam Toubeh. “Just that Canada is colder.”
The Toubeh’s have learned a lot since moving to Ottawa. Now they’re going to take their first Canadian-style road trip to learn a whole lot more.
McNaught is piling them into his own 32-foot motorhome for a whirlwind 4-day tour around Ontario, beginning at Parliament Hill and including Kingston’s historic Fort Henry, Prince Edward County’s pristine Sandbanks, the thrills of Canada’s Wonderland and the natural beauty of Algonquin Park.
“It’s amazing because it’s the first time travelling,” says Wessam. “And I like travelling.”
And for a family that now calls Canada home, travelling doesn’t get much more Canadian than that.