Nfld. & Labrador

Syrian refugees welcomed at St. John's ceremony

Premier Dwight Ball officially welcomed Syrian refugees to Newfoundland and Labrador Wednesday, saying that there are still 100 more still to arrive.

Dwight Ball says refugees ‘ready to be Newfoundlanders and Labradorians’

Syrian Almsri Althaif says he wants to find work and see his children get a good education in Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

As a Syrian refugee in St. John's, Almsri Althaif says he's happy to be in a place where he and his family can finally feel safe.

"I come here, I feel I am human," he said.

"There is no human rights in my country. So I am happy to be here."

Althaif is one of around 150 Syrian refugees who have arrived in Newfoundland and Labrador since late December. He and his wife and their four children left Syria four years ago in the midst of violence and turmoil, and have stayed in Lebanon ever since.

"Living in Syria, before it was good, but when the war took place it was unacceptable," he said.

"Everything was hard. We faced a death every day. Then when I moved to Lebanon it was more hard. I didn't find good place for my children, good school. It was not good. When I got the chance to come to Canada, I was happy. I accepted directly."

Around 150 Syrian refugees have arrived in Newfoundland and Labrador since late December, including the children pictured. (CBC)

The Association for New Canadians is helping refugees like Althaif move into their new homes and enrol their children in school. He said that so far, he's seen nothing but kindness from people in Newfoundland.

"I am new here but I see all the people smile, and all of them here, it's lovely," he said.

"I feel safe and peace, and I hope I will get a good future for me and my children. That is enough for me."

Premier says there are no barriers 

With the assistance of a translator, Premier Dwight Ball welcomed many of the Syrian refugees at an official reception on Wednesday.

"This is not about you joining us, this is about all of us and you being part of one province and being part of one country," said Ball.

Ball told the CBC that the province will accept a total of up to 250 refugees, which he said will be good for population growth.

"There's no barriers at all. They are ready to be Newfoundlanders and Labradorians," he said.

"They want to make Newfoundland and Labrador their home, they are ready to go to work, and they want to contribute to our society."