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Government-sponsored refugees arrive in Nanaimo

A Syrian man carries a sleeping child off a bus at the Travelodge in Nanaimo Thursday. The group of 38 refugees, that included about 20 children, were greeted by rain and a welcoming crowd of about 50 people.  - CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin
A Syrian man carries a sleeping child off a bus at the Travelodge in Nanaimo Thursday. The group of 38 refugees, that included about 20 children, were greeted by rain and a welcoming crowd of about 50 people.
— image credit: CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Rain may have been falling, but it didn't dampen the spirit or the mood of the dozens of government-sponsored refugees who arrived in the Harbour City this afternoon.

Greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of supporters, 38 Syrian refugees filed off a coach bus and into the Terminal Avenue Travelodge.

"Everything is beautiful, the trees, the water. I have never seen the ocean before," Abdul Hamid, 14, said through a translator.

Hamid, originally from Homs, arrived in Canada from Jordan more than a week ago. After stops in Toronto and Victoria, he and his family boarded the bus and made the nearly two-hour drive north to their new home.

"There are no words," he said.

Mohammed Halahab, a transit driver originally from Damascus, arrived with his wife and three children. 

Through a translator, Halahab said he was so happy to be in Nanaimo and that he wanted to thank the Canadian people for their generosity.

"I was almost crying from the happiness," he said.

The refugees are part of the 25,000 government-sponsored refugees that the Trudeau government promised to settle.

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