Nenshi urges Calgary to welcome Syrian refugees with 'open arms'

Calgary will soon have a specific plan to resettle up to 2,300 Syrian refugees, according to Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who called on city residents to welcome the newcomers "with open arms" once they arrive.

Calgary mayor disagrees with Saskatchewan premier's call to slow down acceptance of those fleeing violence

Nenshi on Syrian refugees: "We need to open our arms"

7 years ago
Duration 0:43
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the city is working on a plan to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees by the end of the year.

Calgary will soon have a specific plan to resettle up to 2,300 Syrian refugees, according to Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who called on city residents to welcome the newcomers "with open arms" once they arrive.

Nenshi said the city will announce a specific resettlement strategy "probably sometime this week or next," in conjunction with the federal and provincial governments.

Recent terrorist attacks in France and Lebanon shouldn't deter that plan, he added.

"I need to point out that the people who are desperate refugees are fleeing the exact same people who perpetrated the kind of violence that we saw in Paris and in Beirut last week," Nenshi said.

"They're running away from the bad guys and, as such, we need to be able to open our arms to make sure we can provide safety to these folks."

Suspend plan, says Brad Wall

The mayor's position stands in contrast to that of Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who wrote a public letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that calls on the federal government to suspend its refugee plan.

"The recent attacks in Paris are a grim reminder of the death and destruction even a small number of malevolent individuals can inflict upon a peaceful country and its citizens," Wall wrote.

Nenshi said he read Wall's letter and thought it raised "perfectly reasonable" concerns, but he disagreed with the premier's conclusion that the process should be slowed down.

"I would argue the right way to do this is to get the right screening in place and the number of refugees that are accepted are an outcome of the screening as opposed to starting with the number," Nenshi said.

Meeting to resettle 1,100 refugees planned

Up to 2,300 refugees are expected in Calgary over the next few months. 

The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) says there will be a public forum held on Thursday to communicate the plan to resettle roughly 1,100 of them in the city.

It will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the John Dutton Theatre at Calgary Public Library's central branch downtown.

 "Since the announcement that Canada will accept 25,000 Syrian refugees, CCIS has been proactive in gathering community-based organizations to begin the dialogue and plans to settle and integrate these newcomers into our city," said the non-profit group in a release.

The meeting will identify how the organization hopes to roll out the resettlement program here in the city and will hear from each community service provider involved. 

To RSVP to the forum, email


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