CAIRO – Landing in Canada after a perilous journey, hundreds of Syrian refugees have expressed gratitude to the city of Calgary council, who welcomed newcomers in an official ceremony held on Saturday at the City Hall.
“It wasn’t safe to live in Daraa anymore, there was bombing everywhere, airstrikes and random detentions,” Emad Alsheblak, who fled Syria with his young family, said through a translator, Toronto Metro News reported on Sunday, March 13.
“I am amazed how the system works here, how friendly people are and how they treat us with a lot of respect.”
Alshelblak fled Syria with his wife and three children to Jordan in 2013 to escape the civil war, before coming to Calgary two months ago as refugees.
He said he and his family are so thankful for everything Calgarians have done for newcomers.
Alshelblak was speaking during a ceremony held by the City of Calgary council to welcome newcomers at the City Hall.
At the ceremony, the city mayor Naheed Nenshi shared his family story of moving from Tanzania in 1971.
Though his family’s immigration was not forced, he said he can relate to refugees’ experience.
“If we hadn’t been immigrants from Tanzania in 1971, we would have been refugees from Uganda in 1972,” he said.
Nenshi said everyone who comes to Canada comes for a reason.
“All of us here today have the opportunity to live a great Canadian life,” he said.
“I wish I could tell you there weren’t challenges ahead, but there are. You’re going to have to work hard, you’re going to have to learn English, and you’re going to have to integrate into Canadian society.”
On the other hand, Ashelblak said he and his family were very grateful, vowing to work hard to pay back to the nice people.
He added that he and his wife, who are attending school to learn English, would make Canada proud by both studying to be nurses so they can give back to the community.
The mayor added that this reciprocal attitude is one of the most important parts of the refugee process.
“When refugees come to Canada, it’s not enough to give them the best of Canada,” he said.
“We need them to give us their best too.”