Robert Gyles (left) and Ryan Duemonte found it a little cool when they arrived in Castlegar and were happy for the coats provided. Photo: Dave Cornelius

Rossland welcomes refugee couple

Men left Trinidad where they faced discrimination

Rossland has welcomed its newest community members, who left systemic discrimination in their home country for a new life in Canada.

Robert Gyles and Ryan Duemonte arrived Sept. 18 from Trinidad, and were greeted by the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees. The group sponsored the pair’s relocation to Rossland.

They arrived in clear weather but immediately noticed the cold, and were happy the group had brought some warm fleece jackets for them.

SEE: Rossland refugee group seeks housing for new arrivals

As well as cold weather, the men were also apprehensive about bears and ironically one of the first things they saw after landing were huge pictures of a grizzly and two wolves above the luggage carousel.

The West Kootenay Friends of Refugees managed to find them a small apartment in Rossland, and the couple moved in after arriving. The next day was spent on paperwork.

“We hit the ground running and managed to get a post office box, IRCC paperwork mostly complete, MSP forms ready to go, a quick visit to Jobs BC, hot dogs at the Trail Farmers’ Market, cell phone connections, a visit to the gym, bank accounts and money transfers and the lease signed and agreed on,” says Jan Micklethwaite.

Both men will also be working on getting their driver’s licences — something they’ve never had before. In the meantime, the Friends of Refugees is looking for bicycles for the pair.

Micklethwaite says the men are grateful for all the help they have received and are committed to making a success of their opportunities here in Canada.

“They are delightful and have made a great impression on everyone who has met them,” she says. “If you see them on the street, be sure to say hello do what you can to make them feel welcome.”

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