December 11, 2015 12:48 am
Updated: December 11, 2015 3:35 am

Syrian refugees begin arriving in British Columbia

WATCH: There was raw emotion at YVR, as a Burnaby man reunited with the sons he hadn’t seen in 15 years. John Hua reports.

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The first mass arrival of Syrian refugees is arriving in Canada tonight.

All of the 163 Syrians arriving in Toronto are being sponsored by private groups, many of whom had filed the paperwork months ago in order to bring in some of the estimated 4.3 million Syrians displaced by the ongoing civil war in that country.

WATCH: Plane carrying Syrian refugees lands in Toronto

Only eight of them will be heading to British Columbia – four to Kelowna, three to Coquitlam, and one to New Westminster – but already, refugees have begun trickling into this province.

Mohamad-Mamon Alhomsi has been separated from his sons Yaseen, 25, and Majd, 22, for 15 years until today.

His two other children, Moustafa, 8, and Maram, 4, were also ready to welcome their brothers to B.C., despite having never met them.

“I will just hold them to my chest,” said Alhomsi through an interpreter.

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They were separated because their father, a former Syrian MP, was put in prison under the Assad regime and then exiled.

He came to Canada in 2010, and since then he’s been trying to get his two older sons over to Canada.

The process stalled out under the Harper government but now under the Trudeau government it’s a go.

First thing Alhomsi wants for his sons is to go to school or to work because they want to contribute. Yaseen Alhomsi already has a strong command of the English language and hopes to obtain a Masters in Business Administration.

WATCH: A family who escaped the horrors of war-torn Syria and now calls B.C. home discusses the new chapter in their lives. Kylie Stanton reports.

On Vancouver Island, the first Syrian refugees have also arrived.

Nine-year-old Mouhamad Alnaddaf, his mother Faten and his grandmother Aisha touched down at Victoria International Airport on Monday night after flying more than 10,000 kilometres from a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Their family was handpicked by the Mill Bay Baptist Fellowship as part of a joint private-government sponsorship after waiting for over two years to leave the camp.

“One of the things the bible is very strong in teaching is you are to look after widows and orphans. That just really spoke to all to us,” said Norman Sowden, pastor of the fellowship.

The family now has temporary housing, and another five families are expected in Cowichan Bay in the coming months.

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