Syrian refugees dance with joy after being placed in same hotel as Canada's Furries

The organisers of VancouFur convention had worried event might be a culture shock for the children

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The Independent US

It was a case of simple good fortune. Mixed with a decent dash of humanity.

The organisers of the VancouFur festival - an event where people dress up as furry animal personas - had not planned to interact with the Syrian refugees who were staying at the same hotel.

Indeed, they warned those attending the event in Vancouver that the sight of fun-loving friendly costumes might even be upsetting for the youngsters. They warned those taking part in a letter that the convention would likely be “a major culture shock” and asked attendees to make the children feel welcome and safe.

But as a barrage of happy, smiling images have proved, there was no such problem after all.

Indeed, the youngsters, who were being put up at the Executive Airport Plaza as they prepare for new lives in Canada, were delighted by the “Furries” and the youngsters spent time dancing, laughing and jumping up and down in joy.

One of the Furries taking part, who uses the name Aphinity, filmed the scenes and said on Twitter: “Syrians interacting with costumed characters at @Vancoufur this year. I actually cried watching this as I filmed it.”

Speaking to The Independent from his home in Vancouver, Aphinity said the interaction with the children had been genuinely moving. He said he doubted the youngsters had ever seen anything like it.

"When they came into the hotel and saw us they were overjoyed," he said. 

Twitter user @southeastanthro said the festival organisers had done a great job with their “open arms reception to the refugees”

VancouFur was nice.

“This is what the fandom is capable of! Keep up the awesome!,” said the message.

Chris Jantz, who has attended the festival for three years, told the New York Daily News that he and others at the fifth VancouFur convention were at their hotel on Sunday morning when a bus pulled up and dozens of refugees poured into the lobby.

“They saw people in giant animal costumes. To the children they were just cartoons from stuff like Yo Gabba Gabba!, etc., and they wanted to say hi,” he said. “I don’t think they had any concept of the furry fandom.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced last month that it had met its goal of bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of February, with plans for an additional 10,000 by the end of 2016. 

The focus of the authorities has now shifted to finding housing for those currently in places such as hotels, as CBC reported only 60 per cent of those brought to Canada since November have permanent places to live.