It took two years for Ibtesam Alkarnake and her family to finally get to Canada to begin their new life. And a mere 10 hours after landing, they did receive a new life... in the form of a healthy baby boy.
Travelling from a refugee camp in Amman, Jordan, to Frankfurt, Germany, and then onto Calgary, where they spent a few hours before boarding an Air Canada flight to Fort McMurray, the family of six (with another on the way) finally made it north on Tuesday evening.
Somewhere along the 24-hour journey, Alkarnake's water broke — and she didn't tell anyone, not even her husband. Instead, she sat quietly for hours in pain and discomfort, all for the hope that she could have her baby born in Canada.
After finally landing, Fort City Church, who sponsored the family that fled Syria five years ago, and a handful of residents, greeted the family. They escorted the new Fort McMurray residents to their apartment, and it was then when the mother revealed she was going to give birth.
The mom was taken to a local hospital, where her son, Eyad, was born a few hours later. He weighed just over six pounds.
— CBC Edmonton (@CBCEdmonton) February 1, 2017
"Brute determination on the mom's part to have the baby in Canada," Fort City Church Pastor Doug Doyle told CBC.
The church, which raised $70,000 for the family's integration into Canadian society, shared a photo of the family with their newest addition on Facebook, with the caption, "The first family photo of the Alkanakre's [sic] with their newborn son, not yet 24 hours in Fort McMurray. #WelcomeToCanada #NewCanadianCitizen."
The comment section was filled with well wishes.
"That is amazing! Lots of transitions in store for this family. Thanks for sharing," one user wrote.
"God love you all. Welcome all of you to Canada," another wrote.
One woman even asked how she could donate "to this amazing mom."
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley called Ibtesam's strength and determination "incredible."
— Rachel Notley (@RachelNotley) February 1, 2017
With much attention being placed on U.S. President Donald Trump's ban on refugees from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries, this story is a heartwarming reminder that these people are just like any of us — in need of a home to raise a family.
In the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: "Canadians will welcome you."