Syrian Cuisine Made with Love


Just five months in Calgary as a Syrian refugee and Rita Khanchat is already giving back to Canada. With the help and support of EthniCity Catering she has started her own catering company called ‘Syrian Cuisine Made with Love’
“It is important to know why I named my enterprise such,” she explains. “After passing through enough of suffering and having seen a lot of death and destruction in Aleppo, Syria, we moved to Canada with a hope to start afresh and showcase that real Syria is full of love. I want this to reflect in the food that I make.”

In Syria, Rita worked for a reputed television station as a broadcast engineer. She and her lawyer husband found life good before all the mayhem broke loose.
“Last five years were a mess. The country that boasted of a lot of historical places is now reduced to rubble. We escaped to Lebanon (from Syria) and are now in Canada as privately-sponsored refugees,” she says.
Rita heard about the CFN programs and services through other community members and connected with the agency.
 
“Since cooking was my passion, I opted to access the Ethnicity Catering program. Luckily, I made it in as a trainee. The staff here has been so good that they actually helped me with all the formalities to enable me set up my own little commercial venture. When you are in a new country as a refugee, you are afraid of everything – the law, the culture, the people. The Centre for Newcomers empowered me and provided me with a sense of belonging.”

Future plans? -  “Get back into my profession eventually. But whatever I achieve, the ‘Syrian Cuisine Made with Love’ will continue as a business entity,” she chirps with a glint in her eyes.
Fact File: Syria
The ongoing Syrian Civil War was inspired by the Arab Spring revolution. It began in 2011 as a chain of peaceful protests, followed by a crackdown by the Syrian Army. In July 2011, army defectors declared the formation of the Free Syrian Army and began forming fighting units. The United Nations put out an estimate that 2,50,000 persons have died in the civil war till now. The opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported the number of children killed in the conflict is 13,694, while at the same time 8,823 women were also killed. To escape the violence, over 2.1 million Syrians fled to neighboring countries of Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey as refugees. As the civil war has dragged on, there have been worries that the country could become fragmented and cease to function as a state. Resettling refugees is a proud and important part of Canada's humanitarian tradition. It demonstrates to the world that Canada has shared responsibility to help people who are displaced and persecuted. Till now, more than 26,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada. According to the Government of Canada, 1,400 of them arrived in Calgary between November 4, 2015 and March 4, 2016.  
(Sources: IRCC, City of Calgary and Wikipedia)