To commemorate the first anniversary of the first plane of Syrian refugees arriving in Canada, the Toronto based Nai Syrian Children’s Choir, comprising of recently arrived refugee children from Syria, performed at the House of Commons at an event organized by Mr. Arif Virani, MP, Parkdale-High Park and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
The event was held in the Rotunda of the House of Commons on Thursday December 8, 2016 from 12:00-12:30 PM. The Choir told a poignant yet heroic story of the refugee children by singing three songs written in Arabic, English and French, including their signature song “Singing for Peace”. All parliamentarians were invited to join the Honourable John McCallum, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and welcome the choir and their families.
The Nai Syrian Children’s Choir was established by CultureLink, a settlement agency located in the Parkdale-High Park region in Toronto. Since December, 2015, CultureLink has received more than two thousand Syrian refugees. With the help of thousands of volunteers, the agency has provided effective and innovative programs to assist the Syrian refugees in their settlement and integration into the Canadian society.
“The performance of these children is very powerful – they communicate the hardship of the conflict and their hope for their new life in Canada” said Arif Virani. “Having seen them in the past, I can attest that it’s a very moving experience to see the choir perform.”
“I never could have imagined the power of art and music in healing the horrible wounds of wars. I hold back my tears every time I see them sing ‘Merci Canada, Notre nouvelle maison Canada ’”, said Mr. Ibrahim Absiye, CultureLink’s Executive Director.
Ms. Fei Tang, the Choir’s founder stated: “I hope this performance will not only express our choir children and families’ gratitude towards Canadians, but also send a strong message internationally that the magic of music and the power of love can heal the wounds, unite people and bring peace to the world”.
Office of Arif Virani, Member of Parliament for Parkdale–High Park
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
1 (613) 992-2936
Confederation Building, Room 774
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
General Manager, CultureLink Nai Syrian Children’s Choir
1 (416) 347-2878
2340 Dundas St.W., Suite 301
Toronto, ON M6P 4A9
CultureLink was established as the HOST program to serve refugees in 1988. Today, CultureLink is a leading settlement and community service provider in Toronto and caters its diverse and innovative programs and services to more than 16,000 newcomers annually. CultureLink enjoys a reputation of being a welcoming environment for newcomers and a true reflection of our communities, which is evidenced by the talented and multilingual staff who serve clients in more than 30 languages.
Founded in April 2016 by CultureLink’s staff and volunteers, Nai Syrian Children’s Choir provides a unique space for the recently arrived refugee children to learn to express their grief, yearning, love and hope through singing. While children age 6-12 receive free weekly music education with professional music teachers, their parents practice English conversation with experienced ESL educators. Nai’s mission of “Healing, Learning and Rejoicing” is supported by Toronto Pearson International Airport (Founding Sponsor), TD, Regent Park School of Music (Education Partner) and RBC who have made significant contributions to the choir’s success.