Syrian refugees bump N.S. population to record high — but will they stay?

In News by MIIC

Rouida Khalaf and Mohamad Alsaeid at their family dinner table. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

Instead of a bouquet of flowers, Rouida Khalaf arranges lettuce leaves in a vase, poking skewers through cherry tomatoes so they look like rosebuds.

She and her daughter had also spent hours hand-rolling two heaping platters of glistening, stuffed grape leaves, which they set on a long table loaded with other Syrian delicacies.

It was important to Khalaf to feed the guests from CBC at her Halifax home. The table spoke of a family, which includes six children, eager to share their happiness with others.

It was all so different 16 months ago.

“When we left Syria, we left it in a state of war. All our morales were really very degraded,” Khalaf said through an interpreter. Now she feels “stable and settled.”

“I found my life right here,” she said.

Khalaf and her family are among the 1,475 Syrian refugees who helped push Nova Scotia’s population to an all-time high last year of 947,284 people.

“The Syrian cohort alone actually changed the trajectory of population growth in the province to a positive gain, rather than a loss of population,” said Dalhousie University sociologist Howard Ramos.

The question now: How many will stay?

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