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This Syrian refugee marched next to Canada’s Prime Minister at Pride

Nick Duffy July 5, 2016

A Syrian refugee marched next to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Toronto Pride.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau made history on Sunday by becoming the first Prime Minister to march in Toronto’s Pride parade, with thousands taking to the streets for the celebrations.

However, while lots of people were focused on Mr Trudeau, another man who was swept up in the celebrations has shared his story.

Syrian-born Bassel Mcleash, 29, had only made it to Canada a month ago thanks to a programme for LGBT refugees – and had attended the parade hoping to catch a glimpse of Mr Trudeau.

He recalled to the Guardian: “I wanted to tell him thank you, that I’m Syrian, I arrived here a month ago,”

But far from simply waving at Mr Trudeau as he marched past, the refugee somehow ended up right next to the Prime Minister – and was caught in many of the press photos marching next to him for the length of the parade.

The refugee, who is gay and HIV-positive, said: “Just the idea of attending a pride parade was a dream. To march in it was like an extreme dream.

“But to march in the parade next to the prime minister – not in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought about having a day like this.”

Mr Mcleash added that he spoke to the PM about his journey, and shared his heartwarming reply.

The refugee said: “He told me that Canadians were the ones who asked him to take in refugees. I literally wanted to cry. I was barely able to contain myself.”

He added that while he was celebrating his new freedoms in Canada, he felt concerns for his LGBT friends back in Syria and Egypt.

He said: “To be honest, I was overexcited and overjoyed with everything [in Canada].

“Sometimes you just wish that they were here, feeling the same feelings of safety and enjoying the same things.”

The Pride parade was disrupted by Black Lives Matter activists.

More: Americas, Canada, Gay, Justin Trudeau, LGBT, refugee, Syria, Syrian, Trudeau

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