On a wintery weekend in February, we were fortunate to attend the Creative Rural Minds meeting that took place at the Baxter Arts Centre in Bloomfield (it was a great event featuring gorgeous music by Jérémie Albino and BTW, if you are a creative type and are either living in or plan to move to PEC, then this organization should be on your radar). There, we learned about Suhaila El Husein and Adnan Mustafa’s new business, Papa Ghanoush and Mama Hummus.
Suhaila and Adnan are just two of the Syrian refugees that settled in PEC just over one year ago, and it warms my heart not only to see how nicely they are adjusting, but also to witness first hand how caring the PEC community is. The last thing I expected that day was to leave the event all teary-eyed!
The County as we know it today was built largely on the backs of the Loyalist refugees starting way back in the late 1700s. Having recently read Peter C. Newman’s Hostages to Fortune, a novel that chronicles the plight of the Loyalists in general – it really made me appreciate the hardships the founders of PEC endured both before and after arriving here. The book itself doesn’t focus on PEC (there is a page or two that just touches on the area) but prior to reading it, I had no concept of how harshly the Loyalists were treated by their former friends/neighbours and even their own divided families south of the border. And when they arrived here - there was literally nothing, they had to clear the land and re-build their lives entirely from scratch. Pretty humbling stuff considering my biggest concern when we bought our place here was coming to terms with a fully functional septic tank.
There certainly are parallels between our present and past, and while the challenges our refugee friends face in this century are quite different – it really does excite me to think about how their contributions will have a role in shaping our future.
At the end of the session, we were able to buy some of their products (we picked up Hummus, Baba Ghanoush, Tabbouleh and a garlic spread) and I’m happy to report that they were all delicious! I understand that their products are now available for sale at the Agrarian in Picton – so if you want some delicious spreads/salads, and also want to help support a wonderful budding business – stop by and pick some up for yourself!