The Kircalis found their way, one by one, to Canada.
They had initially fled Turkey for Ukraine but later decided to seek asylum in Canada.
First, their son Fatih, 15, flew alone to Toronto. Arriving Aug. 31, he enrolled in the Nile Academy, a private school started by Turkish immigrants.
Then in February, Hakan, the 44-year-old father followed.
“We tried to get a visa for Canada,” he said. But he couldn’t get one.
He took a chance at a riskier route. He got to the U.S. and traveled to the North Country of New York State.
A taxi brought him to Roxham Road in Plattsburgh which has become a famous footpath for asylum seekers hoping to walk across the border in Canada.
Hakan Kircali said he was one of a group of three who trudged through a snowy forest for two hours to get across the border.
“It’s very difficult,” he said, gesturing to himself. “I’m a heavy man. 124 kilograms [273 pounds]. I walked step by step. Then 10 minutes I am resting.”
When they got across to Canada, they called 911 and identified themselves as refugees.
He was arrested, but he expected that. He said the Canadian border officers treated his group with respect.
“Everyone is very kind here,” he said. “Really.”
Kircali began the process to seek asylum for himself.
Next he made arrangements for his wife, Incilay, to come.
Only able to get a visa to the U.S., she flew to the U.S. and got an appointment to meet Canadian immigration officials at the Peace Bridge.
The family reunited April 13 at the Newcomer Centre on the Canadian side of the bridge.
Canada has welcomed his family, Fatih said.
“The people – they are so kindly and helpful,” the teen said.