Canada has welcomed its first planeload of Syrian refugees.
The Canadian military plane carrying 163 Syrians arrived late Thursday in Toronto.
The refugees were greeted upon their arrival by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the ministers of immigration, health and defense, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory.
In an attempt not to overwhelm the refugees, the Canadian government asked the general public not to come to the airport, but that did not stop some well-wishers.
Trudeau said “This is a wonderful night… we get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations.”
He said “we define a Canadian not by a skin color or a language or a religion or a background, but by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams that not just Canadians but people around the world share.”
Canada is set to welcome 25,000 refugees by the end of February.
Canada’s embrace of the refugees is in contrast to the United States where a presidential candidate, several governors and ordinary citizens have been very vocal in their stance that the refugees should not be allowed into the country.