Sari Alesh hopes to pursue his masters degree at the University of Victoria.

Sari Alesh hopes to pursue his masters degree at the University of Victoria.

Syrian musician adapting to life in Canada

After fleeing a war-torn country, Sari Alesh is now faced with a new challenge — building a new life in Victoria.

After fleeing a war-torn country and living as a refugee in Turkey, Sari Alesh is now faced with a new challenge — building a new life in Victoria.

Alesh had a successful career as a classical musician, playing violin with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra, touring Europe with various orchestras and teaching music to others, before war broke out in the Middle East.

Alesh was forced to put his music on hold, leave his home in Damascus and flee to Turkey.

With the help of the Victoria Refugee Sponsorship Group, a local group who raised the roughly $20,000 needed to sponsor him, Alesh made his way to Canada.

On Feb. 9, which also happened to be his 31st birthday, Alesh finally arrived in Victoria.

Within two months, Alesh was not only excited to learn English, but to share his passion for music with the local community.

He played two concerts with the University of Victoria Symphony and played at a fundraiser for the Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA).

Alesh also started to study violin under Michael van der Sloot at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, has plans to teach music to children with Down Syndrome and is hoping to complete his masters degree in music.

“I’m so happy and so glad to be here,” Alesh said, adding he has made a couple of new Syrian friends. “Life in Canada is wonderful.”

The biggest challenge for Alesh has been learning the language. He is currently living with a home stay family as he studies English at UVic.

“I’m interested in finding work as soon as possible,” he said. “I will try to work and study at the same time. I think it’s difficult to find work in Victoria, but I will try.”

Sabine Lehr, one of the volunteers who helped bring Alesh to Canada and immigrant services manager with the ICA, said he’s adapting well to life in a new country.

“He seems to be embracing being here and he seems to really like Victoria, which is wonderful,” Lehr said. “He’s already speaking English very well . . . I think he has a wonderful career ahead of him.”

Alesh is one of many Syrian refugees who came to Canada by way of private sponsorship. As a thank you for being welcomed into the community, Alesh performed three Turkish and Arabic songs at an event Tuesday morning.

The event was to thank the local community, businesses and residents who stepped up to help bring refugees to the region.

In total, the ICA has welcomed roughy 170 government-assisted refugees to Vancouver Island, most of whom have been placed in permanent housing. More than 28 refugees have also come to Victoria by way of private sponsorship from local groups.

Jean McRae, executive director of the association, estimated another 200 government-assisted refugees will resettle in Victoria by the end of the year.

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
Saanich teen ‘locked inside,’ regaining speech after severe brain hemorrhage

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

A new daycare at Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre is slated to open in September. (Rendering courtesy of West Shore Parks and Recreation)
Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre brings daycare centre to Colwood

New centre to offer 80 spaces come September

The Maritime Museum of British Columbia’s Float the Boat fundraiser campaign is underway. The goal is to raise $25,000 in donations to help with the cost of running virtual programs and onsite operations. (Courtesy Maritime Museum of B.C.)
Maritime Museum of B.C. looks to Float the Boat in Victoria

Fundraiser proceeds will support multitude of virtual programs and onsite operations

Local cyclist Max McCulloch catches air off a jump in the newly redesigned Organ Donor trail at Mount Work mountain biking park. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Mountain bikers lining up for Hartland’s newest trail

Revamped black diamond run ‘what the community needed’

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

Most Read