Bayan Khatib, director of the Syrian Canadian Foundation, poses for a photograph at her home during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. The organizer of a virtual celebration to mark the fifth anniversary of Canada welcoming Syrian refugees says the support of Canadians for Syrian newcomers has been a beautiful example for the rest of the world to follow. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Syrian refugees celebrate fifth anniversary in Canada with virtual event

Syrian refugees celebrate fifth anniversary in Canada with virtual event

OTTAWA — The organizer of a virtual celebration to mark the fifth anniversary of Canada’s welcoming Syrian refugees says Canadians’ support for the newcomers has been a beautiful example for the rest of the world.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, the executive director of the Syrian Canadian Foundation Bayan Khatib says thousands of Canadians have volunteered to help Syrian refugees in almost every city and town in Canada.

Khatib says she was sad the celebration wouldn’t happen in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But now she realizes it was a blessing, with almost 700 people from across the country registered to attend online.

Khatib, who came as a Syrian refugee to Canada more than 30 years ago, says most of the Syrian refugees her organization has worked with have learned English and found jobs thanks to the support they received from their communities.

The first plane bearing Syrian refugees landed in Toronto on Dec. 10, 2015, following a promise by the Liberals during the 2015 election campaign to make it much easier for them to reach Canada.

Nearly 73,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled here since then.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2020

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

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