Syrian, Iraqi refugees living in Sherbrooke meet with Premier Philippe Couillard

Syrian and Iraqi refugees living in Sherbrooke met with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard today to urge him to honour his pledge to bring more refugees to the province.

Delegation of around 30 people from Sherbrooke attend refugee announcement in Quebec City

Members of the St-Ephrem Syriac Orthodox Church in Sherbrooke, Que. travelled to Quebec City to thank Premier Philippe Couillard for his government's pledge to bring more refugees to Quebec. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

A delegation made up largely of Syrian and Iraqi refugees met with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard today to urge him to honour his pledge to bring more refugees to the province.

About 30 members of Sherbrooke's St-Ephrem Syriac Orthodox Church travelled to Quebec City to meet with the Premier and Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil.

The church is a cornerstone of the refugee community in Sherbrooke. It has sponsored dozens of Christian refugees from Syria and Iraq in recent years. 

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has said the province is ready to accept new refugees fleeing war and terrorism. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
Weil announced that the province will be able to accept refugees sooner.

"We got the confirmation that the files of about 2,000 refugees destined to come to Quebec will be handled by the end of the year," Weil said. "That is very good news for people who were sponsored by a member of their family in Quebec and for collective sponsor organizations waiting for them. They can find a haven in Quebec more quickly."

Allen Haddad, one of the organizers of the trip to Quebec City, said he wants to thank the premier for all he's done so far.

"We just want to tell him how much we appreciate the work he's doing in accepting our refugees to come in very fast," said Haddad.

He said the province and country needs to keep the refugee crisis on the political agenda.

"I think finally, the governments are realizing, there's a major problem in the Middle East if you're a Christian, and the only way to help them out is to bring them over," he said.

More refugees in Quebec, premier vows

Couillard said earlier this month that Quebec is ready to accept "hundreds, if not thousands" of new refugees fleeing war and terrorism.

The refugee-selection process is a shared responsibility between the federal and Quebec governments, and Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said Quebec depends on Ottawa to set the target for state-sponsored refugees — acknowledging that objective of 200 for this year is "pretty low."

Sherbrooke is home to over 100 refugees, the majority of which were privately sponsored through St-Ephrem Church.


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