Nfld. & Labrador

Dozens of Syrian refugees to arrive in St. John's Thursday

More than 60 Syrian refugees will touch down in St. John’s on New Year’s Eve and the Association for New Canadians is busy prepping for their arrival.

Getting ready

7 years ago
Duration 0:56
The Association for New Canadians is gearing up for 60 Syrian refugees arriving in St. John's New Year's Eve.

More than 60 Syrian refugees will touch down in St. John's on New Year's Eve and the Association for New Canadians is busy prepping for their arrival.

"Since the Liberal government came into control we've been preparing for this," said Amy Fudge, volunteer coordinator for The Association for New Canadians.

Fudge had no idea when exactly the refugees would be arriving until Tuesday, when she received a phone call from a colleague. She is still not sure exactly how many will be arriving.

All day Wednesday, she and more than 100 volunteers have been working to make the refugees' arrival as smooth and welcoming as possible, by shopping for groceries, making welcome signs, and preparing their temporary accommodations.

Amy Fudge, volunteer coordinator with the Association for New Canadians, only found out the refugees were coming on Tuesday. (CBC)

Volunteers will also pick the families up at the airport, as they arrive on commercial flights throughout the day.

"Just little things to make them feel welcome, make them feel at home," said Fudge.

First six weeks most intense

Fudge said the first six weeks will likely be the hardest for the refugees, as they try to settle into a new life in a strange country. The Association will help the families as they open bank accounts, get MCP cards, find permanent accommodations, enroll their children in school and begin to learn English.

"It's really just everything," said Fudge.

"Certainly the first six weeks are quite intense, but it can really extend beyond that. It depends on so many things like the size of the family, how many children they are, what level of English [they have]."

Volunteers make welcoming signs for the incoming Syrian refugees, who will arrive in St. John's throughout the day on New Year's Eve. (CBC)

The refugees will be in the Association's care until they become Canadian citizens, which will take a minimum of four years.

More than 100 volunteers

Fudge said it hasn't been hard to round up so many willing helpers.

"I think, like a lot of folks, they see what's happening in the news and they want to help," she said.

"And I think this is a tangible way to sort of provide support for people that are living in the community, as opposed to seeing something on the news that's so far away."


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