Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his Christmas address to urge the country's citizens to give a warm welcome to Syrian refugees during the holiday season.
“Around the world and across Canada, Christians gather on Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This is a time when families, friends and colleagues come together to celebrate the spirit of the season,” Trudeau said.
“Christmas is an opportunity for giving as well as receiving. Whether it is volunteering time at a local food bank, buying gifts for children in need, or opening doors to someone who may be celebrating alone, the true spirit of Christmas is about connecting with our neighbors and our community."
He added: "This year, Canadians are welcoming thousands of Syrian refugees to our country -- people who have been forced to flee their homeland due to war and conflict. I encourage all Canadians to show them a warm holiday welcome in keeping with our values of compassion, kindness, and generosity.”
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Trudeau has pledged to welcome 25,000 refugees by the end of February 2016, though immigration minister John McCallum said that the Canadian government may not reach its goal of 10,000 by the end of 2015.
“The human element and the weather element make it impossible to guarantee the 10,000 will have arrived on Canadian soil by the end of this month but we are working very hard to achieve it,” McCallum said.
Despite the uncertainty, McCallum said he’s “very confident” that 10,000 or more refugees would be processed as permanent Canadian residents by the end of the year and that they would reach their goal of 25,000 by February.