Manitoba

24 Syrian refugees arrive in Winnipeg after year of work, $100K in donations

​Monday marked the end of a long trip for three refugee families who arrived in Winnipeg after fleeing war-torn Syria.

Three families arrive at Winnipeg airport Monday morning after fleeing Syria

Monday marked the end of a long trip for three refugee families who arrived in Winnipeg after fleeing war-torn Syria. 2:11

Monday marked the end of a long trip for three refugee families who arrived in Winnipeg after fleeing war-torn Syria.

"I feel over the moon. I feel like it's a dream. I can't stop shaking," said 16-year-old Meyar Abdullah, who stood waiting anxiously at the Winnipeg airport for her family Monday morning.
Refuge Winnipeg, a local interfaith group, has spent one year raising more than $100,000 to help bring 24 Syrian Refugees to Winnipeg. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

Refuge Winnipeg, a local interfaith group, has spent one year raising more than $100,000 to help bring 24 of Abdullah's family members from Syria to Winnipeg.

The three families, all Syrian refugees, have lived in one-room apartments in Beirut, Lebanon for several years.

"We've been waiting for so long, and it doesn't seem real," said Abdullah. "I'm just so happy and thankful to everybody that helped, everybody that donated. It's been a long time coming."

Abdullah hadn't seen her family in seven years before they were reunited on Monday.

"They were getting me mixed up with my older sister because the last time they saw me, I was only nine," she said. "So [there's] lots of catching up."
Family members of 24 Syrian refugees who arrived in Winnipeg on Monday greeted them with signs, hugs and presents. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

Refuge Winnipeg has helped secure housing, furniture and clothes for the families. They'll help support them for a year.

"First you clap, then you cheer, then you get choked up that they've made it here, and we have newcomers," said Barbara Wynes, the chair of Refuge Winnipeg. "They're no longer refugees. They're newcomers to Canada. Just overjoyed, we all are."

The families will soon have English classes, and the children will be able to enroll in school.

"I guess the first thing is to teach them is how welcoming people are," said Wynes. "They're going to eat together this evening and have a family reunion, and then we will show them about Winnipeg and how we live here and how we accept and enjoy the diversity of Manitoba."

Citizenship and Immigration Canada reported more than 2,400 Syrians were resettled in Canada since January 2014. Most of them were privately sponsored.

"It comes from the heart. When you care so much, and you have that compassion for people, you have to release it somehow," said Wynes. 

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