The aunt of a Syrian toddler whose lifeless body pictured on a Mediterranean beach sparked worldwide outrage over the refugee crisis says flights have been booked to bring her relatives to Canada.
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Tima Kurdi says her brother Mohammad Kurdi, along with his wife and five children, are scheduled to arrive in British Columbia the morning of Dec. 28.
"Of course he was very happy," she said from her home in Port Coquitlam after speaking with her brother about the upcoming journey.
"He was crying on the phone, he said 'I cannot even imagine that moment,'" she added.
Mohammad is the uncle of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old boy who died alongside his mother and older brother when their overcrowded boat flipped while crossing the treacherous waters between Turkey and Greece.
Alan's father, Abdullah, has chosen not to come to Canada to be with his sister and brother, staying instead in Kurdistan.
"He doesn't want to leave," said Tima. "He's still hurt. He said 'I tried my best to save my family, and now they're gone and my life doesn't mean anything to me, so I'm not going anywhere.'"
Citizenship and Immigration Canada rejected an initial application from Tima to bring Mohammad.
She says that rejection prompted Alan's father Abdullah to try the deadly boat crossing.
The case occurred in the middle of the federal election campaign and became a major issue for several days.
Tima has opened a hair salon in Port Coquitlam, B.C., where she says Mohammad will join her as a barber.