Tuesday February 28, 2017
'They gave us everything we need. I sleep fine. Everything is good,' says refugee Ismail Mohamed
A refugee from Somalia who CBC met just as he crossed into Canada early Sunday morning says he is feeling very good now that he is Winnipeg.
Ismail Mohamed, 25, crossed over near Emerson, Man. after walking 22 hours in freezing temperatures on the weekend.
"It was very, very bad for me," he said "It was night, it was very cold."
He started the –20 C walk by himself but along the journey eventually met up with other asylum seekers heading north.
"When I saw [a] Canadian flag I was very happy," Mohamed said.
Border officials gave him a meal and a place to rest Sunday, then late afternoon, helped him get a ride into Winnipeg.
Last night Mohamed slept at a Salvation Army in the city.
"It is very very good," he said. "They gave us everything we need. I sleep fine. Everything is good."
Mohamed worked as a mechanic when he lived in Somalia. In 2012, after his brother and father were murdered, he decided he had to leave.
He had married a woman from a different tribe which caused a rift with her family, he said. They lost track of one another after they fled Somalia and now he has no idea where she is or even if she is alive.
If ever Mohamed returned to Somalia he said he would be killed "immediately."
In 2015, Mohamed flew to Costa Rica where he began his journey north to the United States to claim asylum. It took a year to make it to the U.S. but after the election of President Donald Trump Mohamed he began to look even further north, to Canada, to make his new home.
On Monday Mohamed started filling out his first round of refugee claim documents with help from Welcome Place in Winnipeg.
Gwen Muirhead, a second-year law student at the University of Manitoba, is one of the many law students helping refugees file their documents at Welcome Place, which is part of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council.
"Based on the influx of refugee claimants in the last month or so we decided that [they] probably needed more assistance at Welcome Place," Muirhead said.
"I figured there's a need and with being a law student we have a few more resources to be able to assist these refugee claimants."
Mohamed's plan is to eventually move to Toronto where he has friends.
"I think that Canada is a very, very nice country," he said.