'It's a joy': First Syrian refugees in northern B.C. celebrate citizenship
Prince George couple become Canadian 7 years after fleeing civil war in Syria
The first Syrian refugees to arrive in northern British Columbia will be granted citizenship Thursday at a ceremony in Prince George.
"It's a joy," said Rose Tohme, her voice wavering with emotion.
Tohme, her husband, Nael, and their four children fled Latakia, Syria — a port city on the Mediterranean — in 2012 during a brutal civil war.
"We didn't have any idea where we were going to be. We were just living day by day," said Tohme.
The family made their way to a temporary haven in Lebanon and were later sponsored by a church in northern B.C.
On January 8, 2016, the Tohme family flew in to Prince George and climbed down the stairs of a small plane.
It was the middle of the night and bitterly cold.
But the Tohmes were greeted at the airport by a large group of locals with welcome signs and flowers. The group included Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall, the family's church sponsors, and smiling strangers.
"We were overwhelmed," said Tohme. "It was a miracle for us."
Now, three and a half years later, and settled in to their life in Prince George, Tohme and her husband are becoming Canadian citizens.
Nael Tohme, who was a civil engineer assistant in Syria, found work at a company that does hydraulic machine repair, and Rose, a former teacher, is an education assistant at a local high school, working with Syrian students. Their four kids are now grown.
Rose Tohme aced her citizenship test with a perfect score.
She said she enjoyed preparing for the test by studying up on Canada's geography, politics, and history.
"Canada is the land of beauty and the land of immigrants," she said. "This is what I read in the books I studied for my citizenship."