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Syrian Refugees Commemorate One Year Since Being Welcomed to Canada

17 December 2016

Syrian Refugees Commemorate One Year Since Being Welcomed to Canada
December 10th marked the one-year anniversary of the first group of Syrian refugees’ arrival to Canada. The government of Canada has resettled more than 36,000 refugees since November 2015, but many of them are still hoping to be reunited with their families. In a world that seemed to be closing its doors on refugees, Canada accepted them with open arms. While life in Canada has been immeasurably better for the newcomers, it has not come without its own challenges.

More than 350 communities across Canada have welcomed Syrian refugees since last year. While learning a new language, for both students and job-seekers, has not been easy, the warm welcome received from Canadians has helped with the transition.

Canadian political leaders as well as refugees commemorated the year since the first group of Syrians flown out of refugee camps arrived in Canada. Mixed feelings of pride and concern over the road of trials ahead were expressed. Canada’s Immigration Minister, John McCallum, said that he would never forget greeting the first refugees at Toronto’s Pearson airport on the 10th of December 2015 along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other cabinet members.

Even though more than 36,000 refugees have arrived in Canada this past year, many of them, although grateful for Canada, still have family in Syria. McCallum acknowledged this issue and stated, “There’s still work to do.”
Data as of December 4th indicates that 18,940 refugee applications are currently in process, and a further 4,124 applications have been finalized, however, applicants have not yet resettled in Canada.

Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil noted that the next step after learning a new language is helping refugees fully integrate by joining the labour market. Even trained and experienced professionals from Syria are facing barriers to employment in Quebec. Aside from learning French, doctors, engineers, and other professionals must be licensed by professional orders of Quebec, and that involves passing several exams before being permitted to practice.

One Syrian refugee indicated the difficulties in finding a job when he is studying French during normal working hours. Despite the challenges faced, all refugees seem to share a common sentiment: that they are thankful to be in Canada.

Refugees will endure the hardships of integrating into a completely new society, as nothing could be worse than living in war. "You cannot compare the life in a peaceful country with life where there is war," said a Syrian refugee who arrived in Canada last year. "This country is peaceful, this country is welcoming, it is very, very good."

While Canada is committed to continue helping refugees, tens of thousands of Syrians still remain in war-torn Syria, even more so after this past week of devastation in Aleppo. The whole world should do its part, especially those countries with the capacity and resources available to help. Canada has set a humanitarian example by taking in Syrian refugees and giving each of them the chance for a brighter future.
 
 

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