This release was issued under a previous government.

“On behalf of the Government of Alberta, I would like to extend a heartfelt welcome to the first group of Syrian refugees arriving in our province during this season of kindness and charity.

“Welcome to Alberta! Ahlan wa sahlan! It has been a long, arduous journey, physically and emotionally, for the refugees who have fled chaos and war in their homeland. For those who arrived today – and for the other refugees expected to settle in Alberta in the coming weeks – this overwhelming odyssey opens a new chapter.

“It is an experience countless waves of refugees and immigrants to Canada and Alberta have been through for more than a century. All newcomers have felt the same trepidation setting foot in a strange, new land.

“To our newest refugees, who might not know a lot about this country or this province: Have no fear. Canada was largely built by the collective aspirations and values of countless newcomers. Our strength is in our diversity, our sense of inclusion and our commitment to stepping up in a humanitarian crisis.

“Alberta is chilly but our hearts are warm, and Albertans are renowned for their sense of volunteerism and helping out those in need. This province is a place where people from across the world can build a life of promise and opportunity.

“Refugees enrich our society, making positive contributions to our communities, economy and vibrant cultural fabric. Alberta welcomes you, as we will continue to open our hearts to those who will follow in your footsteps in the coming weeks.

“Welcome to your new home.

“To all the big-hearted Albertans sponsoring Syrian refugees: Thank you for showing our newcomers what being Canadian is all about. You truly reflect the best of humanity – caring for others.”

The Government of Alberta continues to work closely with federal, provincial and community partners to ensure the Syrian refugees’ settlement experience is as smooth as possible.

On top of the $250,000 in funding originally committed to address the needs of the refugees, our government is directing $1 million towards refugee resettlement. In addition, a Provincial Refugee Co-ordinator has been appointed to oversee critical and longer-term supports for individuals and families.