161 Syrian refugees arrive in Montreal

A plane with 161 Syrian refugees has arrived in Montreal, the first to land in the city as part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plan to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees to the country by the end of February.

Quebec will welcome 7,300 refugees by the end of 2016

Newly arrived Syrian refugees wait to be processed at a special facility at Montreal's Trudeau airport. (Radio-Canada)

A plane with 161 Syrian refugees has arrived in Montreal, the first to land in the city as part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plan to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees to the country by the end of February.

Upon landing, they were ushered to a processing centre where they were given winter clothes, documents, Teddy bears for the children, and health check-ups.

All but one person in this group are expected to settle in Quebec. The other person will continue to Prince Edward Island.

The refugees on the flight were privately sponsored. Family members and sponsors waited anxiously to greet them outside the special welcome centre set up to process the newcomers.

Michel Kanou was waiting to meet his cousin Yad for the first time and drive him to his home.

Anas Fransis kisses the hand of his grandmother, and newly arrived Syrian refugee, Laila Saeed at a welcome centre, in Montreal on Saturday. The family, originally from Aleppo, has been reunited after eight years. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

"It's war over there. And sometimes they don't have food for days, they don't have electricity for days. They don't have anything to drink, water or anything. And now they're going to have a good life over here, a new life hopefully," Kanou said.

They were also greeted by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum.

Provincial cabinet ministers, including the ministers of Immigration, Public Security and Health, were also be at the airport upon the refugees' arrival.

After visiting the facilities that processed the refugees, Couillard said he was impressed by volunteers who were "exceedingly well-prepared."

"I told the volunteers that it makes me extremely proud that we as a people are able to turn a horrible situation that these people are fleeing, and show them the face of freedom, the face of the welcome, the true face of brotherhood," Couillard told reporters.

The province will welcome 3,650 refugees by Dec. 31, and a total of 7,300 by the end of 2016. The vast majority of those newcomers will stay in Montreal.

How Montreal's Trudeau airport is preparing to welcome the first wave of refugees: 

With files from The Canadian Press


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