Wednesday, July 6, 2016

11-year-old refugee thanks Canadians

Thousands had gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1 to celebrate Canada Day, but some were there for the first time as they prepared to start a new life. Among the newcomers were Wejdan Toubeh, her daughter Aziza, 11, and sons Wessam, 17, and Ward, 22. Accompanied by their sponsors Susan Whitley and Hoda Mankal, they were dressed in red and white to enjoy the festivities. They have been in Canada since December after fleeing Syria's deadly civil war. Their father, a welder, did not make it. He was killed in Lebanon while the family waited to gain refuge. In a brief CBC interview, Aziza, shown here, began crying as she thanked Canadians for providing her with sponsors. "I thank you for much," she said, tearfully.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heard about Aziza's gratitude, he and his wife Sophie immediately came into the crowd to greet her, and Sophie gave Aziza a hug. The unexpected meeting appeared on social media, where one reader responded, "This is what Canada is about. The more I know of Canada, the more I love her." No doubt Aziza will say the same when her English is fluent.

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