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

  • Residents return but Southern California fire still has life

    World News CTV News
    MALIBU, Calif. -- Thousands of people have returned to neighbourhoods evacuated during Southern California's deadly wildfire but officials said the threat is far from over. The huge blaze briefly gained renewed life Tuesday with a flare-up in the Santa Monica Mountains before water- and fire retardant-dropping aircraft beat it back. Source
  • 13-year-old Indiana boy to learn fate in May school shooting

    World News CTV News
    NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- A 13-year-old boy who admitted shooting and wounding a classmate and a teacher at a suburban Indianapolis school was expected to learn Wednesday whether he will be sent to a state juvenile detention centre in an attempt to rehabilitate him. Source
  • Death toll climbs to 48 in Northern California fire

    World News CBC News
    The death toll in the Northern California Camp Fire grew to 48 Tuesday, as recovery teams identified six more sets of human remains from Paradise, a town once home to 27,000, overrun by flames last week. The wildfire disaster is already ranked as the most lethal and destructive in California's history. Source
  • More than 20 people convicted of killing minors held in healing lodges since 2011

    Canada News CTV News
    More than 20 people convicted of killing minors have spent time in Indigenous healing lodges since 2011, according to numbers released Tuesday by Public Safety Canada. As of Sept. 23, 2018, there were 11 people living in Indigenous healing lodges who were convicted of first- or second-degree murder in the death of someone aged 18 or younger. Source
  • 'She's liable to attack': Coco the cow escapes Newfoundland farm

    Canada News CTV News
    A wily, bad-tempered cow has escaped a Newfoundland farm -- and her owner is warning would-be captors that Coco could be dangerous. On Thursday, the heifer leapt over a farm fence while out to pasture in Conception Bay South, N.L. Source
  • In factory after factory, Kim tries to grow N. Korea economy

    World News CTV News
    WONSAN, Korea, Democratic People's Republic Of -- For North Korean factory managers, a visit by leader Kim Jong Un is the highest of honours and quite possibly the most stressful event imaginable. The chief engineer at the Songdowon General Foodstuffs Factory had looked forward to the visit for nearly a decade. Source
  • Toronto man with autism 'traumatized' after police tackle him over toy gun

    Canada News CTV News
    A Toronto family is demanding an apology from police after a man with autism was tackled by several officers because someone reported seeing him holding a plastic toy gun in a car. Zakiyeh Rezaee told CTV Toronto’s Tracy Tong in an exclusive interview that several officers barged into the home where she lives with her 20-year-old son on Saturday night and jumped on top of him. Source
  • Amid legal wrangling, Georgia election uncertainty lingers

    World News CTV News
    ATLANTA -- After two federal court rulings and a flurry of legal filings over a 24-hour period, uncertainty still hangs over Georgia's midterm elections, including the still undecided race for governor. Unofficial results in one of the nation's hottest midterm contests give Republican Brian Kemp a slim majority. Source
  • Melania Trump calls for White House aide to be fired

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump is under pressure from his wife to fire his deputy national security adviser over what two sources close to the White House said was the way Melania Trump's trip to Africa was handled. Source
  • Ontario company fined for factory accident that left child dead

    Canada News CTV News
    LINWOOD, Ont. -- Ontario's Ministry of Labour says a steel tubing manufacturer has been fined $150,000 for violations related to a factory accident that left a child dead. The ministry says a worker was at J.M. Source