Yazidi family, separated by war, to reunite in Toronto
Federal government says they are committed to bringing Yazidi survivors to Canada
Waiting with anticipation at the arrivals gate at Toronto's Pearson airport, Saadi Mado will see his family for the first time in two years on Wednesday evening.
A Yazidi, Mado and his family fled their home in northern Iraq when ISIS attacked the region and started killing and enslaving the Yazidi people.
"Whoever stayed home would be decapitated, the women and children would be sold like animals," said Mado.
- 'They raped us; they killed our men': Psychologist helps Yazidi women recover from trauma of ISIS captivity
- Kurdish PM opposes Canada's 'organized migration' of Yazidis
The Yazidis are a religious minority based mainly in northern Iraq. ISIS began attacking the Yazidi people in August 2014.
Fearing for their lives, Mado's parents left their home without any supplies and headed straight to the Turkish border — the family spent 48 hours without food or water.
When they arrived in Turkey, Mado continued on to Toronto while his parents, two brothers, sister-in-law and two nephews waited in a refugee camp.
He talked to CBC Radio's Metro Morning about his anguish the last two years.
"I was very, very sad. I was in a situation nobody wants to be in, to be far away from your family. You don't know what kind of situation they are in," he told Matt Galloway.
Now, just hours away from their arrival, Mado said he "feels like crying."
Canadian effort to resettle Yazidis
In late October, the Federal Immigration Department committed to resettling Yazidi survivors in Canada, aiming to help women and girls fleeing sexual slavery and torture by Feb. 22 of this year.
In January, that plan was reaffirmed by the newly minted Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen, who said his government would soon be providing a detailed update on their progress.
The number of people the government wants to resettle is still unspecified — the minister said he could not provide those numbers because doing so could endanger Canadian staff on the ground working with Yazidis.
Starting a new life
Mado is all too familiar with the roadblocks involved in bringing Yazidis to Canada. Many of his family members are still in Northern Iraq, where he says "we don't know what will happen to them."
He's working to bring them over but admits the process is "very hard."
In the meantime, he's looking forward to putting down roots with his immediate family in his new home, Richmond Hill, adding that they are considering starting their own business.
For now, he has just a few more hours to get through before his mother, father, brothers, sister-in-law and nephew arrive.
"It will be a fantastic moment," he said. "I have been thinking of them for two years."
With files from Metro Morning