CN Railway announces $5M donation to Syrian welcome fund at Calgary event

Canadian National Railway is donating $5 million to the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees, officials announced at an event in Calgary Thursday morning.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi calls on other corporations to step up

Several recent Syrian refugees were on hand for the announcement of CN's $5-million contribution. (@albertareporter/Twitter)

Canadian National Railway is donating $5 million to the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees, officials announced at an event in Calgary Thursday morning. 

The fund was established late last year by Manulife and the Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) with a $500,000 seed contribution by Manulife.

"CN has showed tremendous leadership and generosity with its support of the Government's plan to settle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada," said Manulife CEO Donald Arthur Guloien in a release. 

"We would like to thank CN for directing its donation into The Welcome Fund and we invite, welcome and encourage contributions from other companies."

Immigration Minister John McCallum joined Mayor Naheed Nenshi, officials from CFC and corporate leaders from CN, Manulife, and General Motors to announce CN's donation.

Of the 434 government-assisted refugees who have arrived in Calgary so far, 362 have been housed, McCallum said. 

The minister was treated to a song by a group of Syrian children after the press conference.

Nenshi praised CN and Manulife for their generosity, and he called on other corporations to join the effort to help refugees settle in Canada.

"Today we announce that private industry is stepping up in a very major way," he said.

"Today we get a national push."

Calgary is receiving $600,000 from Ottawa to help with rent supplements and short-term housing needs.

Nenshi said one of the things that caught officials off guard was the size of some Syrian families.

"The housing for those families, or multi-generational families, has been more challenging than we expected," he said.

"So in that area, this announcement today is going to help us a lot."

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