After escaping violence in Iraq, this family now fears daily life in a Saskatoon neighbourhood
Published Wednesday, October 16, 2019 6:10PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, October 16, 2019 6:35PM CST
SASKATOON -- Alia Raja longs for the day her children can play without her supervision.
“It’s horrible,” she said, describing her current living situation in Saskatoon.
“So many crimes, so many drugs. I can’t even imagine, I can’t even describe it.”
Raja, her husband and three children left the war-torn country of Iraq. They fled to Lebanon before eventually – with United Nations assistance – arriving in Canada as refugees.
She had hoped her family would finally feel safe in their new home and painful memories, like the moment two of her children witnessed a murder, could fade.
“Someone killed someone on his head; they put a bullet in his head. So there is a trauma with two of my kids,” she said.
After settling in Saskatoon, the family outgrew the apartment they were living in after Raja gave birth to two more children.
With the help of the Saskatchewan Housing Authority (SHA), the Rajas moved into a home in the city’s Pleasant Hill neighbourhood.
'A better situation'
Raja now wants to leave the neighbourhood - but can’t.
In March, a 31-year-old was fatally shot. His body was found in an alley, steps away from Raja’s home.
Six of the city’s 14 homicides in 2019 have happened in Pleasant Hill.
Like many who live in Pleasant Hill, Raja is also concerned about gang activity in the neighbourhood. She said she worries the lifestyle might rub off on her children.
“I want them to change their life. Actually, I came here to let my children (have) a better situation, not to stay in the same situation,” she said.
Raja said she contacted the SHA and requested help moving to another neighbourhood, but so far hasn’t received any assistance.