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.

Ontario

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

British Columbia

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

Alberta

  • Calgary: 20
  • Edmonton: 15


Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • N.W.T. ignored in Alberta monitoring suspension despite agreement: leaked emails

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON -- Alberta suspended environmental monitoring for oilsands companies without notifying the Northwest Territories, despite a legally binding agreement to do so. The omission is revealed in a series of emails between the two governments obtained by The Canadian Press. Source
  • Near final results show Polish President Duda wins 2nd term

    World News CBC News
    Poland's conservative President Andrzej Duda narrowly won a second five-year term in a bitterly fought weekend election, defeating the liberal Warsaw mayor, according to a near-complete count of votes. The state electoral commission said that Duda had 51.21 per cent of the vote based on a count of votes from 99.97 per cent districts. Source
  • Nunavut's high rate of police-related deaths 'obviously worth looking into,' says data expert

    Canada News CBC News
    Inuit in Nunavut are dying during interactions with police at a rate significantly higher than in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Ontario, according to data collected and analyzed by CBC and a statistical expert in criminology. That trend is especially apparent since 2010, with a rate of police-related deaths in Nunavut more than 14 times higher than both Yukon and Ontario and more than three times higher than the Northwest Territories. Source
  • Global Affairs official says giving Meng Wanzhou CSIS documents could hurt Canada

    Canada News CBC News
    The director general for Global Affairs Canada in South Asia says disclosing sensitive information from CSIS to Meng Wanzhou as part of her battle against extradition could risk Canadian lives, further damage Chinese-Canadian relations and even compromise the fight against COVID-19. Source
  • Organizers of Hong Kong's Tiananmen vigil appear in court

    World News CTV News
    HONG KONG -- The organizers of a vigil commemorating China's bloody 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square appeared in a Hong Kong court on Monday on charges of inciting others to participate in an unlawful assembly. A total of 13 people were charged over the June 4 vigil, including Lee Cheuk-Yan, who chairs the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic and Democratic Movements of China. Source
  • Zindzi Mandela, daughter of Nelson and Winnie, dies at 59

    World News CTV News
    JOHANNESBURG -- Zindzi Mandela, the daughter of South African anti-apartheid leaders Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has died aged 59. State television South African Broadcasting Corporation has reported that Mandela died at a Johannesburg hospital early Monday morning. Source
  • Near final results show Polish president Duda wins second term

    World News CTV News
    WARSAW, POLAND -- Poland's conservative President Andrzej Duda won a narrow majority in a bitterly fought weekend election, defeating the liberal Warsaw mayor, according to a near complete count of votes. The state electoral commission said that Duda had 51.21 per cent of the vote based on a count of votes from 99.97 per cent districts. Source
  • New Zealand mosque gunman to represent himself at sentencing

    World News CTV News
    WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND -- The Australian white supremacist who admitting killing 51 worshippers in a mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques has dismissed his lawyers and will represent himself when he is sentenced next month. Source
  • Washington NFL team to retire nickname on Monday: reports

    World News CBC News
    The Washington Redskins plan to announce Monday that they will retire their controversial team nickname, multiple outlets reported Sunday night. One source told Sports Business Journal that the team "felt it was important to remove any doubts as to the future of the name. Source
  • 'Plate-shaming' is happening in Atlantic Canada as locals fear those from outside the 'bubble'

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Atlantic Canada’s reputation for being warm and welcoming has long been a source of pride. But instead of hospitality, the pandemic is exposing a glimpse of hostility aimed at those who are assumed to be outsiders. Source