Thanks to Tim Gueguen for the heads up. Naeila El Shatir, a Syrian refugee, was very happy to be going to Canada, but she also had a great need to ensure another refugee made it with her, her cat Sherry.
“This cat suffered as we suffered in the war. He was always afraid,” she explained. “He spent a very difficult time with us. He always looked at me to ask, ‘When will all of this end?'”
For El Shatir, who counseled refugee children with psychosocial issues, taking care of Sherry became a form of therapy and a way of honouring her sister’s memory.
In February, El Shatir and her elderly mother were accepted as government-sponsored refugees in Canada, but pets were not allowed.
“There is no chance,” El Shatir said. “There is a big list of what you can bring and can’t bring. I can’t bring cats or plants.”
El Shatir was torn over whether to leave Sherry behind. In the end, she entrusted Sherry with her brother who promised to complete the extensive medical screening and paper work required to ship a cat to Canada.
“I thank Canada, its people, its government for giving the Syrian people a chance to restart our lives again. To have a chance to live in a normal way and a safe way. Also for giving my cat another chance to live.”
There seems to be a prevailing sense that any refugee should be damn glad to be out of a bad situation, who cares if they are treated like human beings floating about. It’s good to see there are people who do understand how difficult it is for refugees, and something like a beloved pet can make all the difference to a person, especially one who has been subjected to ongoing trauma. You Canadians are serious nice.