New Brunswick

'I was shocked': Newcomer invited to celebrate Canada Day on Parliament Hill

Yasser Al Asmi, who was recently awarded the prestigious Romeo Leblanc Scholarship, was invited to Ottawa, where he attended Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill.

Yasser Al Asmi met with several Canadian dignitaries during his visit to Ottawa for Canada Day

Yasser Al Asmi stood on the red carpet next to Gov. Gen. Julie Payette at the Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa. (CBC)

A Moncton man who recently won a major award, was invited to Ottawa to celebrate Canada Day on Parliament Hill. 

It was Yasser Al Asmi's first time outside New Brunswick since his family came to Canada two years ago to escape the war in Syria.

Al Asmi was asked by Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly​ to come as one of the dignitaries on the red carpet.

"I knew that no matter what, I'm not going to miss this chance," said the high school graduate.

The request came after he was awarded the prestigious Roméo LeBlanc Scholarship to the University of Moncton.

The Moncton teenager recently received the prestigious Romeo LeBlanc Scholarship, awarded to the student with the highest grades from an anglophone high school in Atlantic Canada. (CBC)
 

The scholarship is awarded to the student with the highest grades from an anglophone high school in Atlantic Canada.

During the phone call, the newcomer took a minute to think about the invitation but quickly accepted before taking too much time to process what was happening.

"I was shocked," he said. "It was all great."

A passion for working hard 

Al Asmi will study pre-medicine at the University of Moncton this fall. (CBC)

On his trip, Al Asmi met Sophie Trudeau, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly​ and Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, among others, and walked the red carpet in Ottawa.

Al Asmi came to Canada two years ago from Syria with his parents and three younger siblings. (CBC)

Over the weekend, Al Asmi said he was a bit nervous but happy that Canada recognized him in such a way.

"I had [the] motivation to work hard and reach high places, but I never expected to have all of this in this early time in my life in Canada," he said.

A warm welcome home

Al Asmi and his achievements were celebrated on Parliament Hill over the weekend by several Canadian dignitaries. (CBC)

Al Asmi said the invitation speaks to how Canada welcomes newcomers.

"This was a very warm welcome," he said. "I felt my new country recognized my humble efforts."

Two years after arriving in Canada with his parents and three younger siblings, Yasser mastered English and French with the help of YouTube, mobile apps and the people of Moncton.

Al Asmi will study in French as a pre-med student this fall at the University of Moncton. The scholarship will cover all his tuition fees at the university.