Syrian refugees arrive in Toronto on government plane

TORONTO - The first large group of Syrian refugees coming to Canada by government aircraft arrived in Toronto late Thursday night, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on hand to welcome them at a temporary processing centre at Pearson International Airport.

See Full Article

Trudeau was joined by the ministers of immigration, health and defence, as well as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, local mayors and opposition immigration critics.

Trudeau and Wynne greeted the first two families to come through processing and gave them winter coats.

The first family was a couple with their 16-month-old girl and the second was a man and woman with their three daughters, two of whom are twins. Both families said they were happy to be here.

"They step off the plane as refugees, but they walk out of this terminal as permanent residents of Canada with social insurance numbers, with health cards and with an opportunity to become full Canadians," Trudeau said just prior to the plane's arrival.

"This is something that we are able to do in this country because we define a Canadian not by a skin colour or a language or a religion or a background, but by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams that not just Canadians but people around the world share."

All of the Syrians on board are sponsored by private groups, many of whom had filed the necessary paperwork months ago in order to bring in some of the estimated 4.3 million Syrians displaced by the ongoing civil war in that country.

More than 400 refugees have already arrived on commercial flights since the Liberals took office on Nov. 4.

Just before the aircraft arrived, the prime minister thanked the staff and volunteers helping to process and welcome the 163 refugees.

"How you will receive these people tonight will be something they will remember for the rest of their lives, but also I know something that you will remember for the rest of your lives," Trudeau said.

"So I thank you deeply for being a part of this because this matters. Tonight matters, not just for Canada but for the world."

Canadians eager to show their support for the newcomers weren't deterred by the fact that they couldn't do so face to face.

A handful of people gathered at the international arrivals gate at Pearson bearing signs and gifts.

Stefania Dunlop and Lubna Altaher dropped off dozens of bags brimming with snacks and plush toys for the children, as well as hats and mittens for the adults. The pair said they had made arrangements with airport security to have the items -and several hundreds more bags - brought to the designated terminal where the government flight landed.

"We don't have direct access, sadly, but these are going to be delivered," Dunlop said.

Canadians have a reputation for being welcoming and the response to the refugee crisis "is just a true testament to that," she said.

Andrew Harris, 51, said he wanted to counter the fearful messaging about Muslims that has circulated since the Paris attacks.

He held up a large yellow sign that read "Welcome to Canada," saying that even if the arriving refugees don't see it, the positive words won't go unnoticed.

"I knew that they were going to be at a terminal where the public wasn't allowed, which I totally understand, but I thought I can come out here and just express a message of goodwill ... and I know it's liable to reach them eventually."

This marks the first government aircraft carrying refugees as the government works to fulfil a pledge of bringing in 25,000 refugees by the end of February.

Of the 163 people who arrived Thursday, 116 will head to new homes in the Toronto area. Another four will go to Windsor, Ont. Sponsors in Kelowna, B.C. will welcome four, three will go to Coquitlam, B.C. and one to New Westminster, B.C. Twenty are bound for Calgary, Alta., and the final 15 to Edmonton, according to statistics released by the Immigration department.

A second flight is set to arrive in Montreal on Saturday.

Where they're going

The first flight of 163 Syrian refugees will be headed to three different provinces. Here is a list of cities where they're expected to be housed.


  • Willowdale: 58
  • Toronto: 33
  • Scarborough: 16
  • Etobicoke: 5
  • Windsor: 4
  • Hamilton: 4

British Columbia

  • Kelowna: 4
  • Coquitlam: 3
  • New Westminster: 1


  • Calgary: 20
  • Edmonton: 15


Latest Canada & World News

  • Trudeau gives cabinet ministers their to-do lists for new Parliament

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered marching orders to his cabinet ministers today, instructing them to govern in a "positive, open and collaborative way" as they move on the minority government's priorities to make life more affordable, strengthen the health care system, fight climate change and promote reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Source
  • Starting Sunday, Canadian passengers will be eligible for payouts if flights are delayed or cancelled

    Canada News CBC News
    Canadians preparing to board flights over the coming holidays will be armed with more rights if their trips are delayed or cancelled. On Friday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau reminded travellers that new rules for delayed or cancelled flights will kick in on Sunday. Source
  • Former Kentucky governor pardons convicted child rapist

    World News CTV News
    Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin issued 428 pardons in his final days in office after his November defeat to Democrat Andy Beshear, the Louisville Courier Journal reported. That list includes a man who killed his parents, another convicted of reckless homicide and a woman who threw her newborn in the trash, the Washington Post reported. Source
  • LAPD officer charged after allegedly fondling a dead woman's breast

    World News CTV News
    Los Angeles Police Department officer David Rojas was charged Thursday with one felony count of having sexual contact with human remains without authority, officials said, after he allegedly fondled a dead woman's breast. The October 20 incident was recorded by Rojas' body camera when he and his partner were responding to a call about a possible dead body, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a news release. Source
  • Election result will help U.K. economy, at least in the short term

    World News CBC News
    The United Kingdom election result is a boost to the economy and financial markets in the short term as it will ease some of the uncertainty over Brexit that has hobbled business confidence during the past three years. Source
  • Queen looking to hire social media manager on LinkedIn

    World News CTV News
    Job alert! Buckingham Palace is looking to hire a Head of Digital Engagement -- someone to "maintain The Queen's presence in the public eye and on the world stage." In a job posting on LinkedIn, the Royal Household put out a call for applications for the job with the promise that "your content will be viewed by millions. Source
  • Former PM Abdelmajid Tebboune elected Algerian president

    World News CBC News
    Former prime minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected Algeria's new president after a vote the authorities hope will end months of turmoil, but demonstrators who toppled his predecessor, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, vowed their movement would not stop. Tebboune,housing minister under Bouteflika and briefly premier before falling out with tycoons in the ex-leader's entourage, was announced on Friday as the winner of more than half the vote, making a second round unnecessary. Source
  • U.S. House panel to vote on impeachment articles against Trump after marathon session

    World News CBC News
    Watch the continuation of the panel's debate, and subsequent vote, here at 10 a.m. ET. U.S. lawmakers will vote Friday on whether to move forward with impeaching President Donald Trump, as the Democratic head of the Judiciary committee shocked Republicans by declining to hold a late-night vote after a hearing that lasted more than 14 hours. Source
  • U.S. House panel votes in favour of 2 impeachment articles against Trump

    World News CBC News
    Watch the continuation of the panel's debate, and subsequent vote, here at 10 a.m. ET. U.S. lawmakers will vote Friday on whether to move forward with impeaching President Donald Trump, as the Democratic head of the Judiciary committee shocked Republicans by declining to hold a late-night vote after a hearing that lasted more than 14 hours. Source
  • New Zealand police recover 6 bodies, 2 still unaccounted for on volcanic island

    World News CBC News
    As grieving families sang traditional Maori songs, New Zealand military specialists wearing protective gear landed on a small volcanic island on Friday and recovered the bodies of six of the 16 people who died as a result of an eruption on Monday. Source