There were tears of joy at the Halifax airport Monday after a Syrian family reunited with three loved ones they were forced to leave behind in order to immigrate to Canada.
The Hadhad family moved to Antigonish in January, and since then they've become one of the most well-known Syrian families in the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared their success at a speech to the United Nations in October.
While the family thrived in their new home and opened a chocolate-making business, emotionally the parents struggled with the choice they had to make to come to Canada: leave behind one of their adult daughters and her two children.
Batoul Hadhad can't believe her sister is finally moving to Antigonish. pic.twitter.com/iv51rWaWgp— @carolynraycbc
Alaa Hadhad and her children Omar and Sana have been living in hiding since her family left for Canada.
Her husband was arrested nearly three years ago in Syria and the family hasn't heard from him since.
Because his whereabouts are unknown, Alaa Hadhad was an unregistered refugee, her brother Tareq said, making her case far more complicated as she sought to come to Canada.
It also meant that for the last year in Lebanon, Alaa Hadhad has been living in hiding to stay safe, fearful that she would be sent back to Syria.
Since landing in Canada 10 months ago, the Hadhad family has been desperate to bring their daughter to safety. They reached out to politicians and spoke publicly about their divided family.
They also focused on building their business, Peace by Chocolate, so they would be able to financially support her.
A volunteer group at Saint Ninian Cathedral Parish heard of the separated family. In the spring, the group raised the $30,000 necessary to act as sponsors in just a matter of days.
But that was in April, and the family has waited. They've received several notices along the way that Alaa Hadhad's arrival would be imminent, only to learn repeatedly that it had been postponed.
Finally, they received word that all three would be boarding a plane and arrive in Halifax Monday afternoon.