"God bless you all. Thank you Canada."
Those were the first words of the father of a family of five, the first Syrian refugees to arrive in Sudbury, landing Thursday afternoon at the Sudbury Airport.
The family was greeted by dozens of volunteers, well-wishers and politicians, who joined a throng of media to await their arrival. The mom, dad and three sons were excited to be here, but were sad because a passport problem kept their grandfather in Lebanon, at least for now.
"The first thing he wants is his dad to come here," said Abdul Hak Dabliz, Imam of the Sudbury Mosque, who acted as the translator for the family first's media interview.
"They want to forget all the bad days and the hardship they experienced four years ago when they were in Syria. It was very, very hard."
They spent three years in Lebanon after managing to flee the horrific civil war in their native land, and have been waiting to come to Canada for the last 12 months.