Syrian refugee family arrives in Sudbury — but grandfather left behind

New Year's Eve is the start of a new life for a family of refugees from Syria who arrived in Sudbury to ring in 2016.
It's been more than four months since two refugee families from Syria arrived in Sudbury. (CBC)

New Year's Eve is the start of a new life for a family of refugees from Syria who arrived in Sudbury to ring in 2016.

Joanne Ross is with Lifeline Sudbury and St. Andrew's United Church, two groups that have been helping co-ordinate efforts to bring this family to Sudbury. 

"They're a family of six. They're Syrian, they've been living in a refugee camp in Lebanon for quite some time," she said. "There is a mom and dad, and there's three boys who are 12, 10 and 9, and the grandfather." 

When the family arrived at the airport around 2 p.m. on Thursday, CBC News learned the grandfather was unable to come, due to passport issues. He remains in Lebanon, where the family had been in a refugee camp there for years.

CBC News was told it could take up to 10 days to sort the passport issue out, after which the grandfather is hoped to join the rest of his family in Sudbury.

Earlier in the day, Ross told CBC News she only learned on Wednesday morning that the family would be arriving at the airport in the early afternoon on New Year's Eve. 

Arabic speakers were expected to be on hand to help with translation. 

"We're quite sure they'll be exhausted. They flew yesterday from Beirut to Toronto, and I'm sure they'll be quite tired. And in that vein, we wanted to ensure that they feel welcomed but not overwhelmed." 

Joanne Ross, who helped to organize the sponsorship of the family through St. Andrew's United Church and Lifeline Sudbury, called the unexpected arrival today "super-exciting." (Erik White/CBC)

Ross said a home has been secured for the family, and filled with furniture, goods and food donated by people in Sudbury. 

"Volunteers have been working tirelessly over the last few weeks to ... clean, and we've been doing plumbing and electrical to make sure everything is working well — so their home is ready for them." 

As for what's next for this family of new Sudburians, Ross said the new year holds plenty of challenges and opportunities.

"We're hoping that after a couple of days of catching up on their rest and acclimatizing to the snow and the new community and environment, that we can start the important process of integration by establishing banking and language classes, and schools for the boys." 

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