Members of the Nai Children’s Choir perform in a handout photo. (Irene Barton/The Canadian Press)

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

A Toronto-based Syrian children’s choir turned down an opportunity to perform at an international festival, its founder says, due to fears about crossing the American border under the Trump administration’s travel ban.

Fei Tang, general manager of the Nai Kids Choir, says a chorus of about 60 Canadian newcomers between the ages five and 15 declined an invitation to perform at the Serenade! Choral Festival in Washington, D.C., next week.

Tang says most of the choir members immigrated to Canada within the last two years, and some parents worried that travel documents from their home country would raise red flags under a U.S. policy that bans travellers from five majority-Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

READ MORE: Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

It also affects two non-Muslim countries, blocking travellers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

Tang says the choir is meant to be a therapeutic way for the children to learn Canada’s official languages through song, and she didn’t want to risk re-traumatizing them if U.S. officials denied them entry.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hadeel Abou Ishmes says her two children are heartbroken about not being able to share their songs with choirs from around the world.

Tang says she worked with festival organizers to arrange for a pre-recorded video of the choir’s performance to be shown at Washington’s Kennedy Center on July 1 while the kids gather in Toronto to watch a livestream of the event.

She says the choir will also perform a Canada Day concert at the Aga Khan Museum where they will be joined by Syrian-American rapper Mona Hayda.

The Canadian Press


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

Just Posted

Craft crawl coming to Cowichan

“This helps out our local arts and crafts vendors while craft fairs and vendor shows are not running”

Feds fund safe drug supply pilot program for Cowichan

The opioid overdose crisis continues to be one of the most serious public health crises

Not enough opposition to halt new Cowichan RCMP detachment borrowing

Municipality received 1,364 response forms by deadline on July 14

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

Thousands of dollars in stolen rice found in B.C. warehouse

Police raid seizes $75,000 in ‘commercial scale’ theft case

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

NDP wants Lower Mainland MLA removed from BC Liberal caucus for alleged homophobia

BC Liberal leader, some MLAs apologize for Christian magazine ads but Laurie Throness doubles down

Most Read