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.

Just Posted

Lost a ring? This White Rock man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

PHOTOS: Family Day celebrated at Historic Stewart Farm

Youngsters participate in some old fashioned fun

Clayton’s little neighbourhood libraries are open for business

’Take a book, leave a book’ initiative aims to bring Clayton residents closer together

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Aaron Pritchett and George Canyon to headline Gone Country concert in Cloverdale this summer

‘Early bird tickets on sale via Twins Cancer Fundraising website

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

UPDATE: Plane flips over at Pitt Meadows airport

The pilot and lone occupant exited the aircraft on his own and uninjured.

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Most Read