Calgary

Calgary prepares to welcome Syrian refugees

Sixteen Syrian refugees will be arriving in Calgary Monday and a group that helps settle newcomers along with the mayor, hopes Calgarians will welcome them with open arms.

Immigrant settlement group says screening process is robust after years of improvements

Anoush Newman of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, says the application process is thorough and has evolved to the point where safety is paramount. (CBC)

Sixteen Syrian refugees will be arriving in Calgary Monday and a group that helps settle newcomers along with the mayor, hopes Calgarians will welcome them with open arms.

Anoush Newman, with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, said a lot of coordination has happened already leading up to this day.

"Essential service providers are ramping up their services right now, so as numbers increase, we're going to get large numbers … we want to make sure nobody falls between the cracks," Newman said.

The society is working with health, education and housing service providers and the city to make the transition as smooth as possible.

More concrete details on the federal government's plan is expected Tuesday but it's expected Calgary will accept about 2,300.

Five Syrian babies, three of them triplets (L to C), lie in blankets among their relatives as they arrive with other refugees and migrants aboard the passenger ferries Blue Star Patmos and Eleftherios Venizelos from the islands of Lesbos and Chios at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, October 21, 2015. (Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

Newman says the application process is thorough and has evolved to the point where safety is paramount.

"The government has been doing this for many, many years … and over the years the system has improved and improved and improved in terms of making sure that we have less chances of that happening," she said, referring to extremists slipping through.

The Liberal government's plan to settle 25,000 Syrian refugees has not been without its critics with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall asking Justin Trudeau to suspend the plan and support for it among Canadians has dropped following the Paris attacks.

Still, Calgary Mayor Naheed Neshi is hoping the refugees received a warm welcome, speaking at a public meeting Thursday.

"It's our job to make sure that when they get here, that they are not only welcomed, that they are not only made to feel safe and secure, but that they and their families, whether old or young are given every single opportunity we have to start off on the right foot, to ensure that they have a great life here," Nenshi said.

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