Welcoming Syrian Refugees YMCA Newcomer Programs YMCA Youth Programs

Syrian youth celebrate their culture at the YMCA

YMCA NYLD Participants

This past Wednesday, we spent the evening celebrating the culture and people of Syria through talented performances and storytelling.

The Syrian Celebration was planned and organized by our Arabic Newcomer Youth Leadership Development (NYLD) program, funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The event took place at the Toronto Central Grosvenor St. YMCA Centre and provided Syrian newcomer youth with the opportunity to showcase their talents, cultural traditions, and success stories while adapting to life in Canada.

Syrian newcomer youth and their families were welcomed to the community with opening remarks from Jane Pyper (Chief Operating Officer, YMCA of Greater Toronto) and Joe Mihevc (Toronto City Councillor, Ward 21). With a warm welcome, newcomer youth seized the spotlight and took everyone on a journey, telling their stories through artistic expression. Attendees watched a short film produced by newcomer youth depicting Syria before and after the war, followed by original rap performances.

The auditorium was filled with energy as some watched and others joined the Dabke performances. Dabke is a traditional folk dance native to the Levant region and is usually performed or danced at weddings, family gatherings, and special occasions.

After families reflected on the performances and sat down to a private dinner, all those at the event were invited to join a variety of breakout sessions. A panel discussion provided adults with advice and resources for employment opportunities within their new community. Youth created and indulged in the sweet treat called sahlab during a dessert-making session, while others took photos with their peers and created a collage celebrating their roots.

The YMCA is very proud to host this important Syrian cultural event. The celebration created a welcoming environment and made an important connection between recently arrived Syrian refugees and their homeland.

Please visit the YMCA of Greater Toronto’s Welcoming Syrian Refugees blog and news page for more information about the ways the YMCA is helping Syrian refugees.

If you took a photo at the photobooth during the event, the photographer will be sharing these photos in the upcoming weeks. You will receive a link to the album and at that time, you can find your photos and share them with family and friends.