Mourners have begun to gather in a large Halifax hall for the funeral of seven children who died in a fast-moving house fire.
The service for the Barho children will begin at 2 p.m. local time at the Cunard Centre on the city’s waterfront.
Imam Abdallah Yousri says funeral proceedings will follow in the Islamic traditions, but is open to people of all faiths and members of the public.
He says he hopes that by opening the ceremony up to all who wish to attend, the children’s mother — Syrian refugee Kawthar Barho — will see the widespread support and sympathy from the community.
Yousri says the traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members, including Halifax MP Andy Fillmore, who is trying to help some of the mother’s overseas relatives come to Canada.
Following the funeral service, there will be a burial at a Muslim cemetery in Hammonds Plains.
“(Kawthar Barho) doesn’t have family over here in Canada. She does not have friends as well here in Halifax because she moved here five months ago,” said Yousri on Friday.
“That’s why we are trying to invite her to come see the support and let everybody gather.”
Shuttles will be organized to and from the Cunard Centre to accommodate those who wish to attend, and ample parking is available at the centre.
The children’s father — Ebraheim Barho — remained in hospital Friday recovering from extensive burns. He was in critical, but stable condition.
Early Tuesday, the Quartz Drive house fire killed all of the Barho children: Ahmad, 14; Rola, 12; Mohamad, 9; Ola, 8; Hala, 3; Rana, 2 and Abdullah, who was born in Canada on Nov. 9.
The cause of the fire remains unclear.
The scale of the tragedy for the young family who arrived in Nova Scotia in September 2017 as refugees has struck a chord with Canadians.
A GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $523,846 by late Friday afternoon, with a $1-million goal.
The Barho family lived in Elmsdale, a 30-minute drive north of Halifax, when they first arrived in Nova Scotia and were embraced by residents there.
They had moved to the Halifax suburb of Spryfield to take advantage of language training and other immigrant services, and had planned to return to Elmsdale next month.
The family was among 1,795 Syrian refugees who have come to Nova Scotia in recent years. The Trudeau government granted asylum to 40,000 Syrian refugees in 2015-16.
A brutal civil war has raged across Syria since 2011, claiming more than 400,000 lives.
The Canadian Press