WILLOWDALE, Canada (CBC News) —There are already roughly 350 Syrian refugees adjusting to their first winter in Canada, the first days of a new life, thanks to the Armenian Community Centre in Willowdale.
The center’s co-ordinator will see her phone ring all day, as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) alerts her of new arrivals. Lorig Garboushian and volunteers have picked up more than 20 people in a day, just the beginning of the 1,079 newcomers they will be sponsoring. That’s roughly half of the 2,600 refugees Toronto will be accepting, according to the numbers released two weeks ago by CIC.
There’s always someone there at the airport to welcome the arrivals, whose faces often belie conflicted emotions.
“They will be happy but it’s not full,” Garboushian said. “Their circumstances are different from other newcomers, because they are leaving a lot of things back there. Their memories, their houses, the business, a full life — they were forced to leave.”
That was the experience of Lena and Koko Agigian and their two sons before arriving in Canada three days ago.
As the Syrian civil war worsened, they fled to Lebanon where they had been living for six months.