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Sixteen Syrian migrants arrive in Calgary after living in Lebanon for 1 year

‘Welcome to Canada’: Syrian refugees arrive in Calgary to tearful family, smiling, sign-toting strangers

Sixteen Syrian refugees were welcomed to Calgary on Monday by tearful family members they hadn’t seen in years, and a throng of smiling strangers who brought signs, warm winter clothing, teddy bears, toys, and candy to the airport.

After fleeing war-torn Syria, living in Lebanon for a year and three days, and spending countless hours on an airplane, Antoine Yousef, his wife, his wife’s sister, his 80-year-old mom, and his three-year-old twin daughters couldn’t stop smiling as they walked through the arrival gate at the Calgary International Airport on Monday afternoon.

Stuffies and a brown paper bag full of snacks were thrust in little Elena and Maysa’s hands by strangers as their emotional parents hugged relatives including cousin Ashour Esho.

Leah Hennel / Calgary Herald

Leah Hennel / Calgary Herald Supporters and family members await the first group of Syrian refugees to arrive at the Calgary International Airport on November 23, 2015.

“I’m so proud for my daughters to be raised here in Canada, in this great country. You have democracy, freedom, friendly people, everything,” Yousef, who worked as a pharmacists in Syria, said in Arabic through his cousin Esho, who acted as a translator.

Esho came to Canada from Syria three years ago and has since worked to bring his siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and parents here as refugees.

“Now I have the whole family here in Canada,” he said Monday.

“They are safe now in a beautiful country with friendly people…My words in this situation don’t help me. I’m so happy I can’t express my feelings…It was very dangerous conditions there. Now they are here in Canada so I am so relaxed now, I’m not nervous.”

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