Syrian refugees settling in New Brunswick are being welcomed with a new video that shows off the province's scenery, explains its nuances and does so in Arabic.
The New Brunswick Multicultural Council launched the 16-minute video this week for newly arrived refugee families, volunteers and municipal officials at the Saint John YMCA.
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Layla Rahmeh, who fled Syria four years ago and now lives in Saint John, narrated the video, which was produced by Hemmings House.
The video uses stunning images of the province's top attractions that would not be out of place in a tourism commercial.
But Rahmeh uses the video to deliver a very specific message.
"We have been waiting for you and we are happy your long journey is finally over. Welcome to New Brunswick," she said.
Rahmeh talks about the natural wonders of the province, such as the high tides of the Bay of Fundy, and describes some of the most eye-catching destinations.
'We hope you will stay in New Brunswick, make this your new home, and feel the magic of this wonderful, peaceful, healing place. A place where hope is restored.' - Layla Rahmeh
She also uses the video to get across some key facts that many refugees may be concerned about once they get settled in the province.
"The province, along with the rest of Canada, has one of the best health-care systems in the world. There's free medical help for all. No one is turned away," she said.
"The schools are superb. The crime rate is low. The people are friendly. Best of all, the cost of living is lower than in major cities."
Maps and graphics offer a geography lesson for the newcomers as well as display useful information about religious communities and non-governmental organizations that can help them get settled.
But no introduction to Canada is complete without at least one reference to the winter.
"Yes, it gets cold. Very cold," Rahmeh said.
"Temperatures in January and February can drop as low as 30 degrees below zero. All you have to do is dress warmly. Drive slowly and walk carefully on snow and ice."
New Brunswick has already accepted 445 government-assisted and blended-visa refugees since Nov. 4, according to a federal government website.
Of those refugees, 171 refugees have arrived in Saint John, 148 in Fredericton and 89 in Moncton.
The province could help settle 1,500 of the 25,000 refugees that Canada intends to bring from Syria.
Immigration Minister John McCallum said last week that New Brunswick has offered to step up and help find homes for refugees.
He also said Premier Brian Gallant has told him that the province has jobs for the refugees.
The video echoed that point, saying "many industries need workers. Workers who will stay in in New Brunswick."
The latter message dovetails with the provincial government's goal to see the influx of refugees permanently locate in New Brunswick and reverse the trends of out-migration and a declining population.
The video ends with the same welcoming tone that it began with.
"We hope you will stay in New Brunswick, make this your new home, and feel the magic of this wonderful, peaceful, healing place. A place where hope is restored," Rahmeh said.