Thousands of people filled the Cunard Centre in Halifax on Saturday for an emotional funeral service for the seven children who died in a devastating house fire on Tuesday just 18 months after they arrived in Halifax as Syrian refugees.
The children’s mother Kawthar Barho’s sobbing was the only sound in the waterfront Cunard Centre as seven white coffins, some of them quite small, were brought in one by one by a firefighters’ honour guard.
The Barho children — three-month-old Abdullah; Rana, 2; Hala, 3; Ola, 8; Mohamad, 9; Rola, 12; and Ahmed, 14 — died Tuesday morning in the fire.
“I have attended many funerals but nothing like this, so please bear with me,” an overwhelmed Sheikh Hamza said as he offered the ceremony’s English sermon.
More than 2,000 people came, with every seat filled and hundreds more people standing.
The children’s father, Ebraheim Barho, remained in hospital Friday recovering from extensive burns. He was in critical, but stable condition.
“Today, we feel the pain of losing these children. And for many people here, we feel the pain as if it were their own children,” said Shiekh Abdallah Yousri.
“The pain and grief that we are feeling is very deep and very genuine. And all our hearts and prayers are for the children and for their father Ebraheim and their mother Kawthar.”
The group that sponsored the family, the Hants East Assisting Refugee Team Society (HEART), spoke at the funeral to thank all the people who helped the Barho’s after the fire.
“On what is our darkest day, we see the best of humanity when we look out into the sea of faces in front of us,” said Natalie Horne, of HEART.
Horne said HEART was grateful to the Barho family for including the organization in their lives for the last 16 months.
“Our lives were enriched as a result of our relationship with you and your children. We loved them and we love you,” Horne said.
“And even though we are no replacement for family that is overseas, we are so happy that you welcomed us as part of your Canadian family.”
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