Update: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the Syrian refugee families when they arrived in Toronto on Thursday. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne joined Trudeau in welcoming the refugees, helping them choose winter coats from a collection of donated clothing. Watch a heartwarming video of the meeting between PM Trudeau and the Syrian refugees, courtesy of The Guardian, here:
This story was originally published on December, 10, 2015.
Dozens of refugee families arriving in Toronto on Thursday will receive a very different welcome than they likely would in parts of the United States. The Canadian government paid for about 164 privately sponsored Syrian refugees to fly from Beirut to Canada this week, and children boarding the plane in Beirut were given teddy bears holding Canadian flags. If the cheers that greeted a smaller group of refugees that landed in Toronto on Wednesday are any indication, this new group of families will receive a warm welcome when they arrive on Canadian soil, too. The Toronto Star newspaper chimed in with a statement of its own, publishing "Welcome to Canada" in both English and Arabic across its front page.
The scene in Canada is a far cry from some of the rhetoric that's dominated the debate over refugees here in the U.S. The governors of at least 31 U.S. states have said that Syrian refugees aren't welcome. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump took it even further following last week's mass shooting in San Bernardino, declaring that the United States should stop Muslims from entering the country. The Canadian government, meanwhile, plans to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February 2016. Another group of refugees will leave Lebanon for Montreal on Saturday.