Two brothers from war-torn Syria welcome sister and family to Canada
Shadi Al Khalil hadn't seen his sister in over four years. He'd never met his two nephews. But on Wednesday, that changed.
"I can't tell you how excited because no words can explain my feelings," he says. "All nice words...I can't put them together to say much I'm happy."
Shadia Al Salameh, her husband Zhai and their two boys arrived to a huge welcome at the Ottawa airport. The family fled the violence in Syria after the conflict threatened their safety. After going to Lebanon last year, the family was supposed to arrive in December, but were delayed by more red tape.
Speaking through Al Khalil, Zhai says he's surprised by the number of people that came to greet them. He didn't expect all the love and the big welcome.
St. Martin De Porres church is sponsoring the family's journey to Canada. They'll pay the rent for the family's new apartment for a year, as well as provide money for groceries and other needs.
"There's a lot of refugees as we know worldwide, but certainly for Syria and Iraq" says Father Frank Scott, pastor at St. Martin De Porres. "For us as churches to respond in this way is hugely important."
But it's more than just money.
"We're going to help them find jobs, we're going to help them learn the language," says Christine Beelen, head of the Catholic Women's League at St. Martin De Porres. "We're going to work with their family to just make sure that they feel part of a safe community and loved and welcomed here."
Fadi Al Khalil and his family received the same support when they arrived in Ottawa six months ago. They're still learning the language and getting settled, and even though they miss their homeland, they're thankful for the opportunity to live in Canada.
More refugees will be able to call Canada home by the end of the year. Last month, the federal government said it will accept an additional 10,000 refugees from Syria and 3,000 refugees from Iraq.
That could include more members of the Al Khalil family. Their mother and another brother are still living in Syria.