Ola Khetabi (front left) was one of students who helped carve the art project organized by Curtis Joe Miller (back right). (Grace Kennedy photo)

Canadian and Syrian students connect through North Delta art project

On Thursday, Dec. 21, Burnsview Secondary unveiled its carving of Syria’s golden hawk

Syrian refugees attending Burnsview Secondary will soon be seeing a symbol from their country’s coat of arms on the walls of their school, thanks to a collaborative art project organized by youth counsellor Curtis Joe Miller.

“It was my idea to figure out a way to bridge some of the cultural gaps,” Miller said, “to help them to learn to hang out with other kids. I thought what better way to do it then a carving, to work on a carving together.”

The carving includes both Syrian and Canadian elements: the Hawk of Quarish, a symbol that represents Syria on everything from year-end exams to government emblems; the Syrian flag, pictured in the centre of the hawk’s chest; and traditional First Nations formline art.

“It’s both, so it’s connected together,” Miller said. “Canadian and Syrian.”

The project began in January of 2017, and brought together around 30 different students. Each worked on the carving in small groups over the course of a year, finishing the project in November.

Grade 10 student Ola Khetabi, one of the Syrian students who worked on the project, said the carving was a way “that everyone can know us and get to know us as a Syrian.”

“Because … we’re not really known, they doesn’t really know us in the school,” she said. “They just know that we are refugees and we are going to stay here.”

Burnsview Carving

The students faced struggles during the project, both with the technical execution of the carving as well as with communication.

The lapse in communication can be seen, Miller said, in the Syrian flag on the carving.

The carving’s flag has two stars. The current Syrian flag has three. Less than a decade ago, a third star was added to the flag to represent freedom for the country.

“Later on, as the kids got better at communicating with me, they told me that one day as we were carving,” Miller said. “I was like, ‘Why didn’t anyone tell me?’ And they just started laughing.”

A third star was added to the carving, but between the words Burnsview and Syria, rather than on the flag itself.

The project wasn’t all struggle, however. Some of the Syrian students shared a traditional Arabic dance, the dabke, with the Canadian students, “which is exactly what we wanted,” Miller said.

“We have to learn from them too, it’s not just them learning from us. We have to learn from them too because they have a lot to give.”

During Burnsview’s Christmas assembly on Dec. 21, the finished carving was revealed to the school. Soon, it will be hanging on the wall, for everyone to see as they pass by.

“I will be proud of that,” Khetabi said. “We did something for our country.”



grace.kennedy@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

 

Counsellor Curtis Joe Miller unveils the Syrian-Canadian carving with students who worked on the project. (Grace Kennedy photo)

Just Posted

Crime, traffic violations in Delta stayed low through second quarter of 2020

Persons offences (e.g. assault, robbery), which had been increasing since 2018, were down 22 per cent

White Rock council favours tree canopy over double-deckers

Decision not to prune will limit 354 route to single-decker buses

BC ACORN report calls on Surrey to help renters

Report contains steps on how the City of Surrey can “ease” the city’s housing crisis

First Police Board meeting Thursday a ‘pivotal moment’ in Surrey’s history, mayor says

The 10 a.m. “virtual” meeting Aug. 6 will be live-streamed and details on tuning in will be available at surrey.ca/policeboard

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

UPDATE: Slow growth for wildfire near Harrison Hot Springs

Fire now burns 12 hectares, grew by 2 hectares overnight

B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking 2,700 overdose calls in July

Province pledges $10.5 million for expansion of overdose prevention response

Canada signs deals with Pfizer, Moderna to get doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Earlier in July both Pfizer and Moderna reported positive results from smaller trials

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

Cyclist in hospital after being hit by load of lumber hanging from truck on B.C. highway

A man is in hospital with broken ribs, punctured lung and a broken clavicle and scapula

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Staff member tests positive for COVID-19 at Maple Ridge Seniors Village

Fraser Health is on site implementing outbreak protocols at the seniors care facility

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Most Read