Drowning deaths renew calls for newcomer swim classes

July 14, 2018

By CBC News |

The drowning deaths of two newcomers to Canada last week has an immigrant from Somalia worried about his own family’s safety around the water.

Abdulahi Elmi, who came to Canada with his wife and two children two years ago, says no one in his family knows how to swim.

“We have to be vigilant — we have to be far away from the swimming places because we don’t have that skill,” the Winnipeg resident told CBC News Sunday, adding he would jump at the chance to go to swim classes for newcomers.

Some immigrants “need programs to learn how to swim and how to protect their kids from swimming pools or from the lakes and rivers.”

Pawan Preet Brar, 20, and Arwinder Brar, 19, both from Winnipeg, died after an apparent fall into Lake of the Woods in Kenora, Ont., on Thursday.

Ontario Provincial Police initially responded to a call about swimmers in distress. OPP divers recovered the bodies of both men Friday.

Little experience with lakes
Both men immigrated to Canada within the past six years and had little experience with lakes, said Pawan Preet Brar’s uncle, Darshan Kaila, who owns the Hilton Garden Inn where both men worked.

Kaila is urging newcomers to Canada to take extra precautions around bodies of water.

“My advice is, please, all the newcomers, I know there is Google and you can look for everything — you guys are smart and well-educated — but still you need someone’s advice or somebody with you guys when you are near a lake or camping,” he said over the weekend.

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