First Planeload of Syrian Refugees Arrives in Canada

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The first Canadian government plane carrying Syrian refugees arrived late Thursday in Toronto, where they were to be greeted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is pushing forward with his pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February.

First Planeload of Syrian Refugees Arrives in Canada

Trudeau's pledge stands in stark contrast to the attitude of some in US, where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump caused a worldwide uproar with a proposal to temporarily block Muslims from entering the US.

The flight arrived just before Thursday midnight carrying the first of two large groups of Syrian refugees to be brought to Canada by government aircraft.

Trudeau greeted the first two families to come through processing. The first family was a man, woman and 16-month-old girl. The second family was a man, woman, and three daughters, two of whom are twins. Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne welcomed them to Canada and gave them winter coats. Both families said they were happy to be here.

"This is a wonderful night, where we get to show not just a planeload of new Canadians what Canada is all about, we get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations," Trudeau said earlier to staff and volunteers who were waiting to process the refugees, CBS News reported on Friday.

All 10 of Canada's provincial premiers support taking in the refugees, and members of the opposition, including the Conservative party, attended the welcoming late Thursday. Trudeau was also joined by the ministers of immigration, health and defense, as well as Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory.

In the US, several Republican governors have tried to stop the arrival of Syrian refugees in their states.

Another flight carrying Syrian refugees will land in Montreal on Saturday.

The planes, both military aircraft, will carry a total of about 300 Syrian refugees.

Canadians eager to show their support for the newcomers weren't deterred by the fact that they couldn't do so face to face as the refugees were processed in a secure area. A handful of people gathered at the international arrivals gate at Pearson airport bearing signs and gifts.

"Canada has been so welcoming, the US doesn't seem like that. People here respect each other here. It's so multicultural," a refugee said. "All my friends are asking about Canada now and how they can come here. In two weeks, there will be another flight with some of my other friends."

The headline on the front page Thursday's Toronto Star, Canada's largest circulation newspaper, read: "Welcome to Canada," with the Arabic translation below: Ahlan wa sahlan. "Welcome."

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