Saudi teen welcomed as 'brave Canadian' in Toronto

Last Updated: Jan 14 2019 17:47
Reading time: 1 min, 9 secs

On Saturday, an 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family this week saying she feared for her life arrived in Toronto after being granted asylum in Canada, where Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland welcomed her as a brave new Canadian.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun grabbed international attention this week after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to resist being sent home to her family, which denies any abuse. Qunun refused to meet her father and brother, who arrived in Bangkok to try to take her back to Saudi Arabia.

On Saturday morning, Qunun arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport wearing a hoodie emblazoned with the word Canada in red, and a blue cap with the logo of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has granted her refugee status.

In her last tweet before leaving for Toronto, Qunun said, “I did it,” and posted pictures from inside an airplane.

Freeland, who received Qunun at the airport, told reporters that Qunun is “a very brave new Canadian.”

“Rahaf wanted Canadians to see that she has arrived at her new home,” Freeland told reporters. “But she had a very long and tiring journey and so would prefer not to take questions today. And she is now going to go to her new home.”

“(Australia) takes too long. That’s why I went to Canada,” she told Reuters in a direct message before boarding her flight to Toronto.