These Syrian refugees became Canadians. Just in time to vote.

posted on October 9, 2019

By MaClean’s |

A small but growing number of the Syrian refugees who have resettled in Canada will be able to vote in this election. It’s a big moment when back home, an election was basically a “theatre act.”

At first, Mohammad Joudi did not believe the voice on the other end of the phone. “I thought somebody was joking with me,” he recalls. “They asked if I wanted to travel to Canada.”

Luckily for him, the call was no prank. It was the United Nations refugee agency, scrambling to help the new Liberal government in Ottawa fulfill one of Justin Trudeau’s signature promises of the 2015 federal campaign: to welcome 25,000 displaced Syrians by the end of the year.

Holding his cellphone to his ear, Joudi was elated. By that point—early December—his family had not stepped foot in their war-ravaged homeland in more than three years, having fled to neighbouring Jordan in 2012. Offered the chance to suddenly start fresh on the other side of the world, Joudi did not hesitate. On Dec. 27, 2015, just three weeks after that life-changing call, he, his wife Reem and their six children touched down in Toronto—part of the first wave of what is now nearly 60,000 Syrian refugees who have resettled in Canada under Trudeau’s watch.

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