In one embrace, a father ended a 15-year separation from his sons on Thursday.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve expressed any feelings of happiness,” former Syrian politician Mohamed-Mamon Alhomsi told CBC News.
Before the reunion, Alhomsi stood among a small crowd gathered by a row of luggage carousels at Vancouver International Airport, waiting for his two sons, Yasseen and Majd.
Wearing a suit with two lapel pins high on his jacket — one of the Canadian flag and the other of Syria’s — he waited.
A CKNW camera captured what happened after Alhomsi’s sons came into view.
WATCH: Family reunites after decade apart:
Alhomsi was previously an independent member in the Syrian parliament before he was swept up in a police crackdown following Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s election victory in 2000.
According to Human Rights Watch, the then-opposition politician was sentenced by a Damascus criminal court to five years in prison for “attempting to illegally change the constitution” in 2001.
After his release, he fled to Lebanon, and was forced to leave his sons behind.
He arrived in Vancouver in 2010.
Son: ‘I don’t have any words’
At the airport, 25-year-old Yasin tried to find the words to describe what he was feeling reuniting with his family and seeing his father again.
“I don’t have any words to… express this feeling, my sister, my brother, first time I see him and my sister, my father… in 15 years,” he said.
Alhomsi spoke to reporters with a translator to talk about the emotional strain of having his family split apart between Canada, Lebanon and Syria.
He took to Twitter to share his gratitude and extended thanks to the "great Syrian people who stood by our side.”
Yasin and Majd arrived as government-sponsored refugees after their applications were finally processed after being delayed by Ottawa.
They were also greeted at the airport by their step-siblings who they've never met in person, nine-year-old Mustafa and four-year-old Maryam. They held colourful signs thanking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Both Mustafa and Maryam were born after Alhomsi left Syria.
In Toronto, Trudeau greeted Syrian refugees arriving at Pearson International Airport after disembarking a government-chartered flight from Beirut.
The prime minister addressed the 163 newly-arrived refugees with some words of comfort. “You are home. Welcome home,” he said.
A second flight of Syrian refugees is scheduled to arrive in Montreal on Saturday.
With files from Mohamed Omar
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