Fariborz Birjandian of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, says the Syrian refugees are coming from a life of uncertainty, as they arrive in Calgary Friday. (CBC)
Calgary welcomes 20 Syrian refugees
20 privately-sponsored Syrian refugees touched down at the Calgary airport Friday afternoon
CBC News Posted: Dec 11, 2015 7:35 PM MT Last Updated: Dec 11, 2015 7:35 PM MT
Twenty privately-sponsored Syrian refugees from five families were given a warm welcome at the Calgary airport Friday afternoon, as they leave behind lives of uncertainty.
"We have the determination to start a new life, a new beginning," said father Salem Kallas through an interpreter.
"We are sure this is the place where we will get equal opportunity, everyone is equal."
Along with his wife Rita and four-year-old son Elie, the family had been in Beirut since 2012 after leaving their war torn home of Aleppo.
The refugees arriving Friday are privately-sponsored by Canadian family members, friends and church groups.
Fariborz Birjandian is with Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, one of the local groups spearheading the resettlement.
"They are really very tired but extremely excited to come to Canada, coming from a life of uncertainty for their children, for themselves," Birjandian said.
"Some of them have lost family members, obviously they have lost livelihoods. They already know they are coming to a great city and great community."
Mayor Naheed Nenshi extended a warm welcome to the newcomers.
"I know we are going to work hard as a community to make sure that they are successful here because that is what we do," Nenshi said.
Premier Rachel Notley did the same in a statement.
"Alberta is chilly but our hearts are warm, and Albertans are renowned for their sense of volunteerism and helping out those in need," Notley said.
"Refugees enrich our society, making positive contributions to our communities, economy and vibrant cultural fabric. Alberta welcomes you, as we will continue to open our hearts to those who will follow in your footsteps in the coming weeks."
Meanwhile, the Kallas family is tired but thankful and optimistic.
"The trip was successful and we are so happy to be in the place that we dreamed of being, safe and healthy," Salem Kallas said.
"If you are serious and hardworking you will get what you are looking for."