Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Arriving with only with one suitcase each and the clothes on their back, Stettler’s newest family is settling into Canadian life.

The family – Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and their three children Junny, Daniella and Darissa, – arrived in Stettler recently as sponsored refugees from Ethiopia.

It was a long journey that started in Burundi when Kwizera’s parents were assassinated after challenging the corrupt government. Fearing for his family’s life, Kwizera, his first wife and their daughter fled the city. A year later, his wife and three-year-old daughter were killed when he was not at home.

Once again Kwizera found himself on the run. His escape took him across four borders: Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya.

When he arrived in Kenya he was told Kenya was not a safe place for him and was advised to travel to Ethiopia.

Frightened and alone, he crossed the border as a refugee into the country’s capital Addis Ababa. He was directed to the nearest refugee office where he was transferred to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

He was sent to a refugee camp 1,000 kms away near the border of Sudan. He met his second wife, Diane Mukasine. Mukasine, who is Tutsi, fled her home country of The Congo when ethnic tensions flared and her husband was taken away by police. She fled the country with her eight-month-old son. Their two daughters, Danielle and Darissa were born during their time in the camp.

While in camp, Kwizera was elected as camp chairman. It was the camp chairmen’s responsibility to help maintain peace and security.

After some years in this position, Daniel began to experience problems with some of the other refugees. Realizing he was no longer safe at the camp, he met with the UNHCR officials and he and his family were eventually transferred back to Addis Ababa.

During this time in Addis Ababa, Kwizera opened a social media account. One day he received a message asking if he was Daniel Kwizera, formerly from Burundi.

The person was a friend of his late wife. Kwizera learned that his daughter was alive and well. She had been looking for word of him for the past nine years. He was overjoyed and immediately registered his daughter with immigration.

In May of 2014, the couple had their first resettlement interview with the UNHCR. They were told they may have a long wait but that Canada had accepted their application. In February, 2017, the couple and the children were interviewed by Canadian Immigration officers in Addis Ababa.

With about three weeks notice, the family was on their way to Canada.

The family arrived at the Calgary International Airport on November 22, 2017.

They were all exhausted when they arrived in Canada.

What they didn’t expect upon arrival was the group of people waiting for them. In fact, as they slowly made their way through the arrival gate, they looked back over their shoulders wondering if the group excitedly waving was waiting for someone else behind them.

This is a moment forever imprinted in his mind; Kwizera wept for a moment realizing he had a new Canadian family. (WHO WAS WAITING FOR THEM?)

Since arriving, the family has been very pleased with the hospitality they have received.

“How is it that people are so happy for someone they don’t know?,” said Kwizera. “It is so wonderful to see people genuinely care for one another.”

They also really appreciate that people smile and greet one another.

The couple said that they feel safe and loved in the Stettler community.

“People show how they feel in their hearts,” added Mukasine.

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake and Eckville under snow fall warning

Environment Canada issued the warning Saturday morning.

Local parents and teachers learn how to help their kids Grow Up Digital

Dr. Phillip McCrae presented research from Grow Up Digital Alberta on Fri., Sept. 21

H.J. Cody Lakers stumble against Stettler Wildcats

The Lakers lost the home game, Sept. 20, 20-8

Wolf Creek Schools raises Treaty 6 flag for first time

Chiefs, school officials took part in a ceremony that is aimed at acknowledging Treaty 6 land

Red Deer County wins award for third year

Red Deer County was recently recognized for outstanding budget presentation

Environment Canada confirms Ottawa area hit by two tornadoes Friday

At one point more than 200,000 hydro customers were blacked out

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

Coaches, players on Alberta university rugby team buckle up for the Broncos

16 people died when Humboldt Broncos bus collided with a semi-truck in rural Saskatchewan

The Vatican ‘owes God an apology,’ activist says in letter to Pope Francis

Letter came after a report on sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children in six Pennsylvania dioceses

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only nine of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

Hydro Ottawa says more than 170,000 customers were without power early this morning

BALONEY METER: Do Liberal policies mean a typical family is $2,000 richer?

MPs took to Twitter to talk how ‘typical’ Canadian families have more money due to Liberal policies

Most Read