Refugees fleeing Syria are expected to land in Canada late next week. But it may not be the plane-loads many had thought.
In an interview with CTV News, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage confirmed the number of Syrian refugees arriving in Halifax Regional Municipality will be in the dozens – not the hundreds.
“We’re talking less than 100 right now in the first wave for Nova Scotia,” said Savage. “Our goal is that we get a higher percentage. The province has indicated 1,500 would be ideal.”
The government has released a map showing the private sponsorships for refugees across Canada. It states 46 will arrive in Nova Scotia and 40 in Prince Edward Islandthis month.
Privately sponsored refugees are arriving first because they have already passed security screening.
The new target is to receive 10,000 refugees by year's end and the remainder 15,000 in the first two months of 2016.
“We provincially don’t have the complete database for all of those who are destined to be coming this month,” said Nova Scotia Immigration Minister Lena Diab.
Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia program director Claudette Legault says of the first 10,000 refugees, 8,000 will be privately sponsored.
“We're still asking that big question – how many and when,” she said.
St. Andrew’s United Church in Halifax is sponsoring a Syrian family, having to raise $30,000 to do it.
“The wheels are in motion on our end but we're taking our time and we’re trying to do it carefully and well,” said Rev. Russ Daye.
For past refugees like Zdenko Juric, Canada is the perfect place to call home.
“They shouldn’t be scared. They should just embrace and be open,” said Juric.
The government has asked for letters of interest from air carriers who can provide at least 200 seats for direct flights to Toronto and Montreal from Turkey and Jordan.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kelly Linehan.