Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally welcomed 163 Syrian refugees at an airport in Toronto, Ottawa, on Dec. 11 (video below).
“You’re safe at home now,” Trudeau told the refugees while handing them coats, reports The New York Times.
“Tonight they step off the plane as refugees, but they walk out of this terminal as permanent residents of Canada,” Trudeau told government workers at the airport.
“This is a wonderful night where we get to show not just a planeload of new Canadians what Canada is all about, but we get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult straits,” Trudeau added.
People and organizations in Canada sponsored the refugees and will arrange for their living quarters, schooling and other needs. Each family cost about 28,000 Canadian dollars to sponsor.
A second plane of refugees are due to arrive in Montreal on Dec. 12. Trudeau's administration has promised to welcome 25,000 refugees by the end of February 2016.
"This is a great moment for Canada," Canadian Immigration Minister John McCallum told the BBC News. "This shows the way we really are. It truly is a non-partisan, national project."
The Toronto Star newspaper ran a headline that said: "Welcome To Canada."
Canada's warm welcome stood in stark contrast to GOP front-runner Donald Trump's call to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., and several Republican lawmakers who want to stop accepting Syrian refugees.
The Obama administration has pledged to take in 10,000 of the refugees in 2016.