A family of Syrian refugees that arrived in Canada New Year's Day spent their first Saturday in Canada picking up some necessities at the refugee donation centre in Bayers Lake.

The Hzim family arrived with just one suitcase for the entire family of seven. The five children range in age from four to 12, with a new baby on the way.

The family's father, Mamhoud Hzim, worked as a construction worker in Syria before moving his family to a United Nations refugee camp in Beruit, Lebanon. The family spent the past 14 months living in the camp.

Speaking through a translator, he told CBC the biggest gift the province has given them is the sense of safety that he says they never felt in Syria or in the refugee camp.

Hzim says he's overwhelmed with the generosity of Nova Scotians and he's looking forward to the day he's back on his feet and able to give back to people here.

Ensuring his family learns English and that his children get an education is his biggest priority, he said. 

"He's been stuck in limbo for about a year and he wants to go back to work," said pastor Michel Lechmann of the Timberlea Baptist Church, which is sponsoring the family.

"He knows he has to learn English so it's a process of us helping them set up bank accounts, get the kids enrolled in school." 

The family will be living in a three-bedroom apartment in Clayton Park. They needed to live in a city because one of the young boys has had heart problems. 

The children will start school this Tuesday.

Hazim family's arrival

About two dozen people greeted the Hazim family when they flew into Halifax on New Year's Day. (Photo submitted by Chris Churney)