A Saskatoon school’s efforts to help a refugee family from Burundi culminated Thursday in an emotional reunion at the city’s airport.
École St. Matthew School began fundraising to bring the family over back in 2015, when Canada’s decision to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees was dominating headlines.
Parents Danielle Schock and Krista Schreiter first brought the idea to St. Matthew’s administration to have the school privately sponsor a refugee family.
From there, a refugee sponsorship committee was formed with Schreiter and Schock serving as co-chairs and joined by St. Matthew students, staff, parents and members of the Catholic School Community Council.
With school officials and students firmly on board, the committee linked up with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, and were connected with the family, who were fleeing a years-long civil war in their East African homeland.
Eighteen months and $30,000 worth of fundraising later, the family was able to come to their new home in Saskatoon.
Most of the family arrived in Saskatoon last week, however, the school kept it under wraps in order to protect the safety of one final family member who had to make their way from Rwanda.
That last family member arrived at the Saskatoon airport late Thursday night. She was greeted by her other recently arrived loved ones, alongside a contingent of students, staff and parents from St. Matthew.
“It’s incredibly emotional,” Schreiter said. “I have children almost the same age as their children and it’s absolutely amazing to have them finally here.”
—with files from Ryan Brandt.