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

Jumbo’s legal boondoggle continues

Province appealing the BC Supreme Court decision

Good wood; Radium lumbers to top prize

Wood WORKS! BC gives honour to Radium at UBCM

Unsanitary change room conditions exposed at Radium’s hot springs pools

Health inspector felt nothing of concern posed a “serious physical or health risk”

Brewer Creek: a fall classic

Summit Trail Makers Society

VIDEO: Messages of hope, encouragement line bars of B.C. bridge

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Wartime Wednesdays

Invermere’s Elinor Florence investigates stories from our wartime past

The longest week: Carolinas worn out by Florence

Frustration and sheer exhaustion are building as thousands of people wait to go home seven days after the storm began battering the coast.

Vancouver councillors move ahead with policy for duplexes on detached home lots

Mayor Gregor Robertson says the decision is another step toward adding homes in the city for the so-called “missing middle.”

Canada’s goal is to play in a medal game at World Cup in Spain

The 2014 women’s world basketball championships were a coming out party for Canada.

World Anti-Doping Agency reinstates Russia

There was no mention of Russia publicly accepting a state-sponsored conspiracy to help its athletes win Olympic medals by doping.

Nanaimo’s Tilray pot stock continues rising, firm now worth more than $21 billion US

The B.C. company’s shares have risen more than 1,000 % since its initial public offering in July

Fresh-faced Flames fend off Canucks 4-1

Vancouver drops second straight NHL exhibition contest

Most Read