Something amazing just happened, and it didn’t make a single headline.
It happened in a place you’ve probably never been, to a family you’ve never met
And it’s the best story you’ll read.
This is Yaman. He’s in Grade Three. He’s just like any other kid except for one thing:
His family are all Syrian refugees.
No biggie, after all Canada admits a lot of refugees, right?
Wait, keep reading.
When refugees come to Canada, it’s usually a happy time. Your plane touches down to a new life and new beginnings. When Yamen’s family arrived, it was bittersweet.
Because their father never made it out of Syria.
Think about what that does to a family.
Imagine Yaman’s mother, Fatima. You survive a war, then move halfway around the world to raise your four kids in a foreign land – all on your own – without even knowing the language or if your husband is even still alive.
Talk about strength.
The family of five (mom + 4 kids) settled in a province called Newfoundland.
It’s filled with cold winters but warm hearts.
Neighbours welcomed the family with open arms, helping them with furniture, school, and a place to live.
In Yaman’s class, there are a bunch of kids who play hockey.
Yaman wanted to play, but he didn’t know how. In fact, he’d only ever been skating once before, back in Syria.
Remember how it felt to be left out when you were a kid?
That was Yaman.
One of the kids went home and told his dad, and before long, word started to spread in the community about the Syrian boy who’d never played hockey.
And this, right here, is where things get Canadian.
Really Canadian 🇨🇦
When a hockey dad named Michael Doyle found out, he rummaged up a pair of kids skates and took him to “The Loop” – the local skating rink.
This was Yamen’s first time on the ice.
At the risk of sounding too Canadian: Not bad, eh?
It gets better.
— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) January 18, 2020
Michael then took to Twitter to ask if anyone had equipment, so he could get Yaman in the local hockey league.
By the time he got home, this was waiting outside his front door.
The next day, there was more, and then even more: Sticks, skates, even hockey bags.
Yup, random Canadians were sending their own equipment to a Syrian refugee kid they’d never met!
When a local hockey store found out (@NlSportsCraft) they offered to give him all brand new equipment at cost.
Within hours, people were asking if they could pay.
Here are just SOME of their messages.
The next day after school, Michael shows up, knocks on the family’s door, tells Yaman to get dressed, and where does he take him?
To the hockey store!
He has no idea what to expect.
By the time Yaman walks in, he’s smiling ear to ear.
They tell him he’s getting brand new hockey gear. He’s so happy that he literally goes around shaking every single person’s hand, one by one.
He chooses a Sidney Crosby stick, but there’s more.
In hockey, you put tape on your stick for better grip.
When they tell Yaman to choose his tape, he goes straight for the one with a Maple Leaf on it.
He wanted to keep the flag with him, so that whenever he plays, he’s carrying it.
When it comes time to pay, Michael hands him the cash, so he feel the excitement of paying for it himself.
And right then, for that split second in time, Yaman feels like the luckiest kid in the world.
And here’s why it matters more than you think.
In Canada, hockey can be more than a sport. At its best, it can unite us. You’ll see Canadians, from all backgrounds, playing it everywhere: Streets, hallways, frozen ponds, you name it.
Hell, as kids, we played until it got so dark ouside we couldn’t see the puck anymore.
When you’re an immigrant, the easiest thing in the world is to feel left out.
Your food is different. Your accent is different. Maybe your clothes too.
And when your parents are struggling to pay the rent, hockey is laughably impossible luxury.
But here’s the thing.
When you’re a kid, you don’t care about any of that.
All you want is to want to fit in. And it hurts like hell when you don’t.
It can be the worst feeling in the world.
And that’s exactly why this was so awesome.
Canada isn’t perfect, but it can still be a place where ordinary people come together to tell a refugee family that we care.
That his mom doesn’t have to go it alone.
That they belong.
It was a gigantic, Canadian “we got you” – all done without having to say a single word.
Right now, St. John’s is snowed under, but soon, Yaman will be hitting the ice with enough equipment for him and his siblings.
And who knows?
Maybe the next @AM34 or Crosby will end up being a Syrian refugee from Newfoundland.
I mean, how Canadian would that be?
Sources & Credits: Muhammad Lila, Twitter