It was the first anniversary one year ago the first planeload of Syrian refugees made their way to the province in hopes of better life.
It has been one year since Canada welcomed the first group of Syrians that the government flew out of refugee camps, and both political leaders and refugees marked the occasion over the weekend with a mixture of pride and an acknowledgment of the challenges the remain.
Noura Alissa says she’s very grateful for the warm welcome she’s received in Canada, but admits the year since she arrived in Montreal from Syria has been more difficult than she expected.
”Trying to find a job while learning french has been difficult, but I am trying, the 25 years old Syrian refugee said in English in an interview Sunday. She also said the warm welcome she got from the Canadians has helped the transition.
Immigration Minister John Mccallum said he would never forget joining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other cabinet minister who welcomed the first Syrians with lot of refugee at Toronto’s Pearson airport on Dec 10 2015.
At a time when many countries closed the door’s to refugees we in Canada said come on in, your welcome, he said at an event in Montreal on Sunday to mark the anniversary.
Prime Minister Trudeau also noted the anniversary on Twitter over the weekend and federal Health Minister Jane Philpott, who joined Trudeau in welcoming the plane, noted the fond memories she had that night tweeted the post on Saturday .
Mccallum and other political leaders who attend the Montreal event they acknowledge there are still challenges to face.
More than 36,000 refugees arrived since November 2015 and many newcomers were still waiting to be reunited with their families
”The first thing newly arrived refugees would tell us me is Thank you Canada he said ”The second thing they would say is there are members of our family still in Syria” so still there is some work to do. he said”
Canada has almost 19,000 applications to process and another 4,124 applicants that have been approved but not yet arrived in Canada.
Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil noted that while the refugees 1st year in Canada has been mostly spent picking up a new language and settling in, the challenge is now shifting to helping them join into labor market.
Kathleen Weil also said province had a goal of welcoming 7,300 refugees by the Jan 2017.
”she said,Next step in full integration notably into job market, and the obviously where the challenges are,”
Kathleen sentiment reverberate several of the refugee families at the event, some of whom she say they need more help to overcome barriers to employment.