clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

This moving video shows how Canada welcomes Syrian refugees

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

Canada welcomed 163 Syrian refugees on Thursday night, the first of a larger pool the country will accept. The CBC, Canada's public broadcaster, filmed their entry after their 16-hour journey from Beirut — and it is humanly impossible to watch the resulting video without really feeling something:

Syrian refugees journey to a new life

"Remember in Canada, we believe your heart is big enough to love Syria and Canada."New beginnings:

Posted by CBC Toronto on Thursday, December 10, 2015

The video shows smiling Syrians, clearly relieved to be in a safe space. Canadians of all sorts of backgrounds are there to help them get processed and settled.

"In Canada," an official says to a refugee, "we believe that your heart is big enough to love Syria and and to love Canada."

One of the most moving parts of the Syrians' arrival isn't actually even in the video: Canada's newly elected prime minister, Justin Trudeau, was at the airport to greet the refugees in person. "You are home," Trudeau said, according to the New York Times. "You’re safe at home now."

This was, apparently, good politics on Trudeau's part.

"The widespread embrace of the plan by the Canadian public stands in stark contrast with the controversy raging over the issue in the United States," the Times's Ian Austen reports. "While opposition parties, including the recently defeated Conservatives, have quibbled over timing and details, there has been no significant opposition to the overall aim of accepting the Syrians. And Mr. Trudeau was joined by his opposition critics in the welcoming party."

Trudeau's government plans to accept 10,000 refugees by the end of December, and a total of 25,000 by March of next year. In September, the Obama administration announced plans to admit 10,000 in total in the next fiscal year. America's population is more than nine times the size of Canada's, making that a much smaller commitment than Canada's in per capita terms.