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Photographer shares stories of new Canadians
Published Saturday, February 18, 2017 6:03PM CST
Last Updated Saturday, February 18, 2017 7:02PM CST
The last time Hiam Al Mohamed had her photo taken was at the Canadian Embassy.
"I appreciate what Canada did for us and that's why I want to show all the people how we love Canada and how we respect this country,” she said.
Before Canada, her life was perfect in Aleppo — until the war broke out.
"I see people die in front of us. I see people, they don’t have food. I see mothers -- she lost her children. I see mothers, she lost her siblings. I see many, many terrible thing,” said Al Mohamed.
On Saturday, she was one of more than 100 Saskatchewan newcomers from Syria who had their portrait taken by Hani Al Moulia, a legally blind photographer and Syrian refugee himself.
The portraits will be displayed at FrontRunner Technologies' national launch in Toronto on April 19. From there, they will be displayed in windows all across the country.
"With my photography, with my art, I wanted to introduce my perspective on these people to Canadians," said Al Moulia.
The former U of R student has lived in Canada since 2015. He was invited by FrontRunner to fly to Regina from his new home in Toronto for this event, which is commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday.
“We're part of Canada now and we want to do something,” said Al Moulia. “We want to fit in. Integration is our goal. We came here to add, not to take. "
And part of Al Moulia's Canada is his family. His brother Ibrahim Al Moulia is one of his subjects for the Canada 150 project.
“When the Syrian war came, I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t do anything there, I couldn’t complete my study,” Ibrahim said. “But here, I can complete my studies. I can complete my future and just do what I want.”
It's this message of hope for the future that Nathan Elliott, founder of FrontRunner, wants to get across to Canadians. Elliott met Al Moulia in 2015, and was immediately inspired.
"We were just looking for a powerful message to not only speak to Regina, but Canada as a whole. And this is what we came up with,” said Elliot. “It's the 150th anniversary of the country and we want to showcase 150 faces of newcomers that re changing the makeup of this country.”