Calgary newcomers given warm welcome
Mayor shares his father's pride in seeing his son take office
Calgary threw open the doors to welcome all newcomers to the city — especially new Syrian residents — at a ceremony Saturday.
Appropriately the original people of Alberta greeted these new Canadians to Calgary's city hall with Native Elders in attendance.
The mayor was also there to greet and offer advice, along with representatives from Immigrant Services and the Calgary fire and police departments.
Hundreds filled the atrium including many children.
Naheed Nenshi told the crowd it's about being inclusive.
"We're here today to officially welcome you to Calgary," Nenshi said.
"To officially welcome you to a place where every single one of us, every single one of us regardless of where we came from, what we look like or how we worship, every single one of us, has the opportunity right here, right now to live a great Canadian life."
He told the audience the story of his own family's immigration and years later how his father proudly watched his son become mayor 20 months before he passed away.
"That story may sound extraordinary in its details but what's extraordinary about that story is just how ordinary it is here in Canada."
The mayor introduced Emad Alsheblak and his family, including wife Walaa and their young children Ghazal, Ahmad and three-month-old Omar.
They were among hundreds at city hall to be welcomed.
Alsheblak said, through a translator, he was amazed at the speed of the application process, and now he is ready to work.
"When they were in the camp in Jordan, there were a lot of Syrians there," the translator said.
"Syrians are hardworking people and even though it's the middle of the desert, they were successful in turning it into a living place and they called in Champs De Lise, as though it's in France so you know they are hardworking people and he's going to prove himself. He's going to work hard to study English and become a nurse."
With files from Mike Symington