Dozens of Syrian refugees donated blood in Halifax on Saturday as a way of conveying thankfulness for being taken in by Canada.
Organizer Mohammad Harb said there were 61 participants in the morning, and more were expected later in the day.
“I feel very happy because everyone came to donate to say, ‘Thank you, Canada,'” he said.
Harb, whose family met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year, is a Syrian refugee.
Donating blood is a moral thing to do, he said.
Several donors echoed that opinion, and they frequently mentioned, unprompted, how grateful they are to be living in Canada.
“I left my country because I was scared for my children and for my family,” Harb said.
Nova Scotia’s Immigration Minister Lena Diab attended the event to show her support.
“You have people that are coming to donate in the hope of giving life to others because they believe they have been given a life — a new life here in this province — and that’s a beautiful thing,” she said.
Halifax MP Andy Fillmore attended the event, too, and he donated a pint of his own.
The donations happened at Canadian Blood Services‘ (CBS) clinic near Bayers Road and Desmond Avenue.
Interpreters were available to help the participants communicate with CBS staff.
The event required extra preparations, but the organization said it was worth it for several reasons, including increasing diversity of its blood supplies.
“If all 61 folks successfully donate today, you potentially have 183 people impacted because each donation will use platelets, plasma and red cells, and they could all go to a different hospital patient or recipient,” said Peter MacDonald, director of Atlantic donor relations for CBS.
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