Safe in Canada, Refugees Pay Justin Trudeau a Sweet Thanks

Afraa and Muhammad Bilan 'love' Canadian PM for their new life, name son after him
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2017 10:03 AM CDT
Safe in Canada, Refugees Pay Justin Trudeau a Sweet Thanks
Meet Justin Trudeau.   (Facebook)

At last count, more than 40,000 Syrian refugees had made Canada their new home since November 2015. Now the Toronto Star reports that two of their number have thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his efforts with the ultimate compliment: They named their baby after him. Justin Trudeau Adam Bilan (and the BBC notes his first name is Justin Trudeau, not just Justin) was born Thursday in a Calgary hospital, the third child of Afraa and Muhammad Bilan, who arrived in the country in February 2016, their two young children in tow. "We love this man, we appreciate him," Afraa tells the Star, adding their new little JT is the first official Canadian in their family. "He got his citizenship before us!" The Bilans, who were from war-ravaged Damascus, faced an uncertain future there when Muhammad, a barber, found himself on the Syrian army's radar.

After he was detained and released, the family heard about Trudeau's initiative to welcome Syrian refugees to Canada and made their way there. Trudeau wasn't at the airport when they arrived—the Independent notes he handed out winter coats at the Toronto airport when the first Syrian refugees under his tenure touched down in December 2015—but the Bilan family still feels a connection. Although the cold weather threw them at first, as did the language barrier, Afraa has since become fluent in English, and Muhammad works part-time in a grocery store. "Canada is much more safe—there's no war, nothing," Afraa tells the BBC. "Everything is different, everything is good—nothing like Syria." Check out a photo album of baby Justin Trudeau's first day at Maclean's. (Trudeau says Canada will take the refugees rejected by the US.)

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