County pays homage to stricken Syrian family

Community Featured

PICTOU — The local community has reached out to the Syrian family whose seven children perished in a recent house fire in Halifax.

Two groups that have sponsored Syrian families whose members are living in Pictou County hosted events in tribute to the Barho family, whose parents survived the blaze last week.

Communities Assisting Refugees Now (CAiRN) that operates through Pictou United Church provided an opportunity for people to sign books of condolence on Sunday afternoon at the church.

“It was very informal,” CAiRN member Stephen MacKenzie said. “Our group has a deeper commitment but the whole community wants to support the family.”

CAiRN placed three separate books of condolence on a table with vases containing seven roses in memory of the children, with the intent to send the messages to the Barho family, the Ummah Mosque and the Hants East Assisting Refugees Team Society (HEART). There was also an opportunity to make donations.

CAiRN and Pictou County Safe Harbour, which operates through Trinity United Church in New Glasgow, hosted a gathering at Glasgow Square on Thursday that included remarks from Rev. Donna Tourneur from Trinity, as well as Tim El-Tahan and Abdulkadir Casim from the local Islamic community.

El-Tahan, who chairs the Pictou County Islamic Association of Nova Scotia, shared the trauma the Barho parents are enduring. The mother escaped the fire, while the father has been in an induced coma from injuries he suffered trying to save the children.

“The grief she is experiencing is unbelievable,” he said, referring to the emotional angst the mother has felt from the disaster.

Casim noted the calm he and his fellow Syrian refugees have sought and achieved since arriving in Nova Scotia and the peril they left behind in Syria. He thanked those present for “your kindness and support.”

“We are talking about seven children who died,” he said. “All of us are looking for peace and safety.”

Tourneur upheld the Islamic community and ensured the local area’s support.

“You do not grieve alone,” she said. “There are ways to bring a light in this dark time. Let that be a legacy. (The Barho family members) will not walk alone.”

Gerry Punke, left, and Monica George Punke sign the books of condolence for the Barho family provided by CAiRN on Sunday at Pictou United Church. (Goodwin photo)