Bayan Khatib is a successful example of Canada’s welcoming approach to newcomers! She is well-known within the nonprofit sector, specifically in relation to the resettlement and integration of Syrian newcomers. At the age of seven, Bayan’s family came to Canada seeking political asylum from the oppressive Syrian regime. At that time, Hafez al-Assad was in power and, currently, his son Bashar has picked up where he left off in 2000. It’s clear that Bayan devotes her life to helping her fellow Syrians seek refuge in Canada and build new lives after having lost so much in the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Bayan works on the ground with these newcomers, knows their struggles and is dedicated to creating program and services to help them overcome obstacles of relocating to a new country and fulfilling their potential.
When the Syrian people rose up calling for freedom in Syria, it was a huge call to action for Bayan. She worked with like-minded individuals and groups locally and internationally to support the dream of a free Syria. Bayan has always been passionate about human rights and years before the Syrian crisis began, she translated a memoir of a political prisoner called Just Five Minutes: Nine Years in the Prisons of Syria to help shed light on the human rights abuses taking place under the oppressive Assad regime.
In the last six years since the Syrian crisis began, Bayan has spoken at events locally internationally to raise awareness about the Syrian uprising and to advocate for human rights in Syria. Locally, Bayan has worked with dozens of sponsor groups to help them raise money to sponsor families and to teach them about Syrian culture and prepare them for meeting and supporting newcomer families.
Bayan is a co-founder, board director, and public relations manager for the Syrian Canadian Foundation (SCF). SCF is dedicated towards supporting the successful integration of newcomers in Canada and establishing a direct connection between the Syrian-Canadian community and Canadian society.
In response to the first big wave of Syrians entering Canada, Bayan and her colleagues collaborated with temporary housing sites where Syrian newcomers were housed and worked to ensure that all of their immediate needs were met including clothing, medical attention and orientation about life in Canada.
Currently Bayan is the Communications Director at the Al-Qazzaz Foundation for Education and Development where she has helped to develop the Women’s Wellness Program. The program entails a Mental Wellness First Aid Kit, yoga therapy sessions in Arabic, and a social circle for women to express their feelings or concerns encountered during the resettlement process. The Women’s Wellness program aims to teach women about the value of self-care and how to support their children who may have experienced trauma while living and fleeing from a war zone. Bayan has established connections with various settlement agencies in an attempt to take this program across Ontario.
Bayan holds a clear vision for the future of SCF in which they are regarded as the go-to organization for a direct connection between the Syrian-Canadian community and Canadian society. The SCF team works directly with these newcomers and strives to be their greatest advocate. “We want to not only address their needs, but also help them achieve their full potential as Syrian-Canadians,” Bayan says.
Bayan is definitely a force to be reckoned with and there is no doubt that she, along with the rest of the incredible SCF team, have created a positive integration experience for newcomers to Canada!
If you are interested in volunteering with SCF, check out their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/SyrianCanadianFoundation/.