Kameel edits the content of his monthly newspaper The Migrant on the living room coffee table of the home lent to him by the Catholic Parish of St. Benedict in Etobicoke. Just a little more than a year after being greeted by his brother Majed Nasrawi at the Toronto airport on January 29, 2016, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief has learned basic English, developed a business plan and started the first newspaper for the Arab and Syrian community in the country. This is just part of the incredible adventure of Kameel, his wife Arij and their two children Theresa and Sam. The family fled the war in Syria and, with the help of the Canadian government and the support of the Etobicoke community, settled in Canada.
Stripped of all their belongings but fuelled by the hope of better days, Kameel, a talented journalist and television screenwriter, and Arij, a psychology graduate, are doing everything they can to adapt to their new life in Canada. Their two children are attending the local elementary school in grades 4 and 5, as well as learning winter sports. Without speaking at great length of past hardships or the horrors of war, the writer of 31 television scripts (plays, comedies, dramas), broadcast throughout the Arab world, is enjoying the success of his bilingual newspaper (Arabic and English). The Migrant, with a distribution of 5,000 copies in Ontario and Quebec and a readership of 80,000 on social media, focuses on the success of immigrants. Born in Lebanon in 1968, Kameel earned his journalism and literature degree in 1997 from the University of Damascus. Following a fruitful career in Lebanon from 2000 to 2010, he returned to Syria. Then, in 2012, just after civil war broke out, the family fled back to Lebanon.
During his time in exile, Kameel wrote three television series that are waiting to be produced. Upon his arrival in Canada, he learned he had won the 2016 Best Screenplay Writer Award at the Cairo Television Festival in Egypt.
Through his openness and sensitivity, the screenwriter, who comedically portrays daily life in Syria and Lebanon, does not fail to highlight the strengths and values of his new homeland. He refers to equality, respect of cultural diversity, freedom of expression and an extraordinary proclivity toward sharing and generosity. Kameel is a remarkable person. Only a year ago, he had to hold small jobs at the local grocery store, and today he reminds us of his two priorities: ensuring his family can thrive and finding concrete ways to serve his new country. When asked: “What would your message be to new immigrants from Syria?” He replied serenely: “What can I do to give back to this wonderful nation that welcomed and supported us?” He added: “If you work hard, someone will notice. Follow your dreams.”