Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his first Christmas message as PM to encourage a warm welcome for Syrian refugees arriving to the country, reported CBC News Wednesday. Several hundred refugees have arrived in Canada since late last month, with some 10,000 expected by the end of the year and a total of 25,000 by the end of February.
Trudeau noted in his address that the holiday season was a time for love and compassion, and that he hoped Canadians would apply those principles to welcome Syrian refugees fleeing a conflict-torn nation who will be experiencing their first winter in a new country.
"After all, we share values of love, hope, and compassion. It's what we do and it's who we are," Trudeau said in the video message. The liberal prime minister, who was elected in October, also in his message paid tribute to the Canadian Armed Forces away from their families.
With an estimated 1 million-plus refugees having arrived in the European Union this year, a global refugee crisis has seen people fleeing Syria especially, as well as countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Trudeau told the people of his country that he hoped Syrian refugees would feel as welcome as any Canadian citizen during the holiday season.
"We often celebrate this time of year by showing our generosity to family and friends," he said. "I trust that we will do the same with the thousands of people who are experiencing the Canadian holidays and the Canadian winter for the first time: the Syrian refugees."
Read the full text of Trudeau's message below, via The Canadian Press:
This is a time to give thanks for loved ones, and look back on the past year. We come together - in places of worship, around the table, or under the tree - to celebrate the spirit of the season.
We often celebrate this time of year by showing our generosity to family and friends. I trust that we will do the same with the thousands of people who are experiencing the Canadian holidays and the Canadian winter for the first time - the Syrian refugees. After all, we share values of love, hope, and compassion. It's what we do and it's who we are.
Let us also take time to remember the brave women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces who cannot be with their families. We appreciate these sacrifices for our country - not just today, but every day.
My friends, I'm deeply grateful for the support you've shown my family and me over this past year. I am honoured to have this opportunity to serve you.
From our family to yours, Sophie and I send you the warmest of Christmas wishes and all the best for health and happiness in 2016.