Syrian refugees see Canada, family for first time in Montreal
161 privately sponsored refugees land in Quebec in province's first wave of newcomers
As a planeload of Syrian refugees stepped onto Canadian soil for the first time last night in Montreal, many of them were greeted by family they had never met.
Michel Kanou waited patiently Saturday night to see his cousin for the first time.
"I am excited to see him and take him in my arms," said Kanou.
Nicolas Altawil, who is taking in his brother-in-law, compared the arrival to Christmas.
"It's a Christmas present that Canada is giving us," he said.
Just spoke with a family looking forward to welcoming its nephew to Montreal. "Best Christmas present ever!"—@jbernstien
These privately sponsored refugees were greeted by volunteers and by federal and provincial leaders.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly and Immigration Minister John McCallum were on hand.
Newcomers were provided with winter coats and teddy bears for the 40 children arriving. There was also additional aid set up for refugees who may have felt overwhelmed or anxious.
More refugees on the way
This is one of many groups of refugees who will 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.
The province is set to welcome 3,650 refugees by Dec. 31, and a total of 7,300 by the end of 2016. Montreal will house the vast majority of those newcomers.
Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil told CBC News she doesn't expect another planeload of refugees in the next few days, but the province is prepared to accept more.
"It really relies on the federal government," said Weil.