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Ammar Al Rahmoun spent 11 months homeless in Lebanon after being separated from his family while they were boarding their flight to Canada. Now, they have been reunited together.

After eleven months of separation, a Hamilton Syrian family has been reunited with their son.

When Abdel Kafi Al Rahmoun first walked into Vivyan Salih’s office at Immigrants Working Centre with tears in his eyes, he knew something was wrong. His family had been separated from their 19-year-old son on their way to Canada.

His Visa was denied in Lebanon, where the family was living as refugees. They were told it was just an error and he would be able to join them in a couple days. Days turned into months, and it quickly became a bureaucratic nightmare for the family.

Adbel’s son Ammar was stuck in limbo in Lebanon. He ended up homeless, and sleeping in an auto shop unable to find shelter. His Canadian visa was again issued and then denied by Lebanese security authorities on three separate instances.


Ammar's mother holds a photo of her son on her phone, an image that would bring her comfort during the separation.

Ammar’s mother holds a photo of her son on her phone, an image she would turn to for comfort while he was stuck in Lebanon. / MICHELLE BOTH

“I wish that nobody would have to go through what we have experienced,” explained Abdel translated from Arabic. “From the first moment we arrived in Canada, we felt like we were in a fog. We were so depressed we didn’t want to eat. We had so much emotion thinking about our son being alone.”

Settlement Counsellor Vivyan Salih at Immigrant Working Centre advocated for them – contacting MP Filomena Tassi to get involved.

“IWC’s door was always open to me. Without that, we wouldn’t be together with our son right now. They helped find solutions for what seemed impossible,” said Abdel.

“Their story touched my heart,” Vivyan said. “I put myself in their shoes.”

In mid-December – after political pressure from MP Filomena Tassi – Ammar finally boarded his plane in Lebanon. Today, the family is together again.

After Ammar settles in with his family, he hopes to finish his high school and head to college.

But for now, they are celebrating.

“As Muslims we don’t usually celebrate Christmas, but this year we celebrate Christmas with the rest of Canadians. For us it’s two celebrations, with the arrival of our son,” said Abdel.

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