FREDERICTON – The first Syrian refugees that will call New Brunswick home landed in Fredericton Saturday afternoon.
Dozens of New Brunswickers spent the afternoon waiting for the plane to land and the doors to open so they could greet the 24 refugees with clapping, welcome signs and flowers.
“You watch it on the news everyday, and you sit in your living room and you wonder if there’s nothing you can do,” said Pastor Larry Matthews, of Faith Baptist Church.
“And we can’t solve all the problems out there but we can make a difference in one family’s life. So that’s what we’re hoping to do.”
The refugees arrived in Toronto Friday night.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, there were 224 refugees on the government-organized charter flight that arrived in Toronto Friday.
Three N.B. churches are sponsoring the families that arrived Saturday. They’re the first of the planned 1,500 that will be welcomed to the province.
The families were very tired, but their smiles were wide despite their long journey. Some showed curiosity about their new home, and the new climate that comes with it.
“Three of the kids that, as they walked into the building, just went to the window to stare at the snow,” said Premier Brian Gallant.
“So, one of the first things we did was reassure them that it’s not always there. It’s not always this cold – but they really thought it was pretty cool.”
Eight of the refugees are headed to Hampton, seven to New Maryland and nine to Saint Andrews.
“One little boy told us he wants to go to school to be an orthopedic doctor. He wants to be a bone doctor,” said New Brunswick MP, Dominic LeBlanc.
“So maybe if Brian slips and falls on a tennis court, that will be the guy that will fix his busted leg.”
More are expected to fly into both Fredericton and Moncton over the coming days.