Liberals to announce Syrian refugee goal met: B.C. immigrant services society
Focus switches now to helping new arrivals get settled
CBC News has learned the federal Liberals will announce their goal of bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada has been reached, with the focus now changing to helping them settle into their new homes.
The original goal to have that number of refugees in Canada by the end of 2015 was amended to March 1, 2016.
'It's an historic date: We will have hit the 25,000 target for Canada," Chris Friesen with the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. "It's been an enormous exercise and has been a phenomenal process and project for staff and community partners."
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The Alatrashe family is among the approximately 2,000 refugees who have settled in British Columbia.
The Lebanese family say they're still getting used to Canada since landing in Vancouver in January.
"The United Nations, they suggest that we can go to Canada and we found it was a good idea to come to Canada. It was a brutal experience in Lebanon," the family of seven said through an interpreter.
The Alatrashes have been living at ISSBC offices while waiting for permanent housing, but they've just learned their new house will be ready early next week.
"We are more lucky than those that are still trying to wait for housing," they said. "Our house will be in Delta … it's a bit far but thank God."
About 1,000 Syrian refugees are being temporarily housed in hotels in Vancouver, Surrey, Abbotsford, and Richmond.
"Although the number is reached, the more difficult work begins and that is around the long-term settlement and integration of Syrian newcomers and the long-term need to find permanent accommodation for these families, and this will continue for the next few weeks," Friesen said.
While the official announcement is expected Saturday from the federal Liberals, an event is already planned in Vancouver.
Tima Kurdi, the aunt of Alan Kurdi, the drowned toddler whose photo has become an icon of the flood of refugees fleeing the war-torn nation, will speak at an event to raise awareness about refugees trying to get safe passage into Europe.
It's one of 100 events taking place across Europe and North America.
with files from Kiran Dhillon