Lebanese Canadians in Nova Scotia worried for relatives after Beirut blast

Lebanese Canadians in Nova Scotia are worried about their relatives and communities in Lebanon after an explosion in Beirut killed at least 100 people and injured thousands.

Georgette Faddoul, president of the Canadian Lebanon Society of Halifax, has a niece who lives near the city.

“We have been in touch with her, and thank god she’s OK,” said Faddoul, who was born in Halifax but has many relatives in Lebanon.

Faddoul said she and many others in Halifax’s Lebanese community have received updates on social media from relatives in Lebanon, but not everyone has been so lucky.

“The community-at-large now, I’m sure there are some people that are awaiting news,” she said.

Georgette Faddoul has been the president of the Canadian Lebanon Society of Halifax for two years. (Submitted by Georgette Faddoul)

Faddoul has been at home in self-isolation after returning from out of the province, following the news on a Lebanese channel.

“We’ve been watching it 24/7. It’s unbelievable, it’s crazy,” she said.

Watching the explosion and the aftermath brought some traumatic memories back, Faddoul said. She was in Lebanon in 2006 when Israelis invaded the airport.

“But this is much more devastating,” she said.

Between the ongoing pandemic, protests in Lebanon, and current financial crisis, Faddoul said this tragedy is “the icing on the cake.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is making things more difficult in Nova Scotia too, Faddoul said, because they can’t meet to raise money or lend each other support as they normally would.

But she’s hoping to work with the Honorary Consulate of Lebanon in Nova Scotia as well as the provincial or federal governments to come up with a plan to help.

“It’s affecting us … It’s hard for us to reach out to see if there’s anything we can do for the community right now,” she said.

‘It felt like an earthquake’

Maha Musa, who has family in Nova Scotia, is a Lebanese Canadian living just a kilometre away from downtown Beirut, where the explosion happened.

She said she was home at the time, working at her desk.

“It felt like an earthquake. It was really terrible, it was really a massive explosion. So we were really really shocked and we didn’t know what to do,” she said.

A number of apartment buildings were destroyed, likely leaving large numbers of people homeless. Musa said her apartment sustained damage.

“The doors, the front of our living room [is] all gone … there’s glass broken. Everything collapsed. All the rooms were destroyed,” she said.

She is still living there, getting help from friends and relatives to pick up the broken chunks of glass and wood that are all over the place.

“I don’t know what to say, it was really bad.… We are surviving,” she said.