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

  • Wynne to shuffle several senior cabinet posts: CP

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO - Premier Kathleen Wynne is shuffling several senior portfolios in her cabinet, less than five months before the Ontario election, The Canadian Press has learned. Deputy Premier and Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews, Treasury Board President Liz Sandals and Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid have all said they're not running in the June election, and Wynne is filling those jobs with politicians who are up for re-election. Source
  • Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh engaged to clothing designer Gurkiran Kaur

    Canada News CBC News
    Federal New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh pulled back the curtain on his closely guarded private life, letting Canadians know Tuesday night that he is engaged. Singh, 38, proposed to girlfriend Gurkiran Kaur, 27, at a private party Tuesday night just blocks away from the Ontario legislature in Toronto where he served as a provincial legislator for six years. Source
  • Puerto Rico embraces 'broken windows' policing amid surge in killings

    World News CTV News
    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Federal and local authorities in Puerto Rico said Tuesday that they will implement a "broken windows" policing campaign to fight a surge in killings across the U.S. territory, which has reported 46 homicides so far this month -- double the number at the same point last year. Source
  • 2 Koreas talk about Olympic co-operation ahead of IOC meeting

    World News CBC News
    The two Koreas are meeting Wednesday for the third time in about 10 days to continue their discussions on Olympics co-operation, days ahead of talks with the IOC on North Korean participation in the upcoming Winter Games in the South. Source
  • Young Hong Kong democracy activist sentenced to 3 months in jail

    World News CTV News
    Pro-democracy young activist Joshua Wong talks to reporters in front of the Court of Final Appeal Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (Vincent Yu/AP Photo) Source
  • Nigerian army releases 244 suspects who denounced Boko Haram

    World News CTV News
    MAIDUGURI, Nigeria -- Nigeria's army released 244 Boko Haram suspects who have denounced their membership in the deadly extremist group, Nigerian army officials said Tuesday. Those released Monday included 118 adult males, 56 women, 19 teens and 51 children, according to operation commander Maj. Source
  • Longshot bid proposes splitting California into two states

    World News CTV News
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A fresh effort is underway to split California into multiple states, one including its coastal cities and the other its rural and inland areas. "New California" is just the latest proposal to divvy up the nation's most populous state. Source
  • Myanmar army enjoys popularity surge amid Rohingya crackdown

    World News CTV News
    BANGKOK -- Activist Nyo Tun spent 10 years as a political prisoner locked away by Myanmar's military in the notorious Insein prison, where he endured beatings and other cruelty for his efforts to bring democracy. Source
  • U.S. Navy filing homicide charges against ship commanders over two 2017 collisions

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Five officers involved in two U.S. Navy ship collisions last year that killed a total of 17 sailors are being charged with negligent homicide, the Navy said Tuesday. A Navy spokesman, Capt. Source
  • Mormon church appoints 93-year-old ex-surgeon as president

    World News CTV News
    SALT LAKE CITY -- The 93-year-old former heart surgeon named Tuesday as the new president of the Mormon Church signalled his intention to make few changes in policy regarding the role of women and LGBT issues -- two topics that the faith has grappled with in recent years. Source