Funeral for 7 children killed in house fire draws more than 1,000 mourners

More than 1,000 mourners gathered in Nova Scotia, Canada, on Saturday to say goodbye to seven children who died in a fast-moving house fire last week.

Seven hearses each carried a child of the Barho family -- infant Abdullah; Rana, 2; Hala, 3; Ola, 8; Mohamad, 9; Rola, 12; and Ahmed, 14 – to the Cunard Centre in Halifax. The hour-long service was conducted in English and Arabic and drew people from across the province.

The family had arrived in Canada as refugees from the war in Syria in September 2017.

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"Today, we feel the pain of losing these children. And for many people here, we feel the pain as if it were their own children," said Shiekh Abdallah Yousri. "The pain and grief that we are feeling is very deep and very genuine. And all our hearts and prayers are for the children and for their father Ebraheim and their mother Kawthar."

"Today, we feel the pain of losing these children. And for many people here, we feel the pain as if it were their own children."

— Shiekh Abdallah Yousri

Nova Scotia's deputy premier, Karen Casey, said the province will continue to support the family, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Family members, friends and members of the community attend the funeral for the seven Syrian refugee Barho siblings in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. The siblings, who died in a house fire earlier in the week, are survived by their parents. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)

Family members, friends and members of the community attend the funeral for the seven Syrian refugee Barho siblings in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. The siblings, who died in a house fire earlier in the week, are survived by their parents. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)

"We will not abandon you, we will not leave you, we will travel this journey with you. Please accept our love, please feel our warm embrace," Casey said.

The fire that ripped through the family's suburban rental home on Tuesday also left the children’s father Ebraheim, 39, critically injured, according to Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. He remains hospitalized. Investigators have not determined the cause of the blaze.

Kawthar Barho, 30, the mother of the children, was the only family member to attend the funeral. Members of the HEART Society, the group that sponsored the family, spoke Saturday.

Police and firefighters investigate following a house fire in the Spryfield community in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. Seven children, all members of a Syrian family who arrived in Canada about two years ago, died in the early morning fire Tuesday that witnesses said quickly engulfed a home in a Halifax suburb. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)

Police and firefighters investigate following a house fire in the Spryfield community in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. Seven children, all members of a Syrian family who arrived in Canada about two years ago, died in the early morning fire Tuesday that witnesses said quickly engulfed a home in a Halifax suburb. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)

“We see the best of humanity when we look out into the sea of faces in front of us,” said Natalie Horne, the group’s vice president and spokeswoman. “We are grateful to Kawthar and Ebraheim for sharing their family with us these past sixteen months. Our lives were enriched as a result of our relationship with you and your children.

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Horne said HEART members grew close with the family through video chats before they arrived in Canada. The youngest child, Abdullah, was born in October and Rana was only 10 months old when the family arrived, the paper reported. Horne said the Barho’s “made their intentions known” that they wanted to have at least one baby in Canada. Four of their children were born in Syria and two in Lebanon.

She described the children as typical kids and said Kawthar was most happy when she was with them.

“It was really hard to get her to step away from those children,” Horne said. “They were so attached to her.”