TORONTO, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Seventeen exiled Tibetans arrived in Canada as part of a relocation program created by the Canadian government, officials said.
The group of Tibetans, who arrived in Toronto Friday, were the first of about 1,000 who are to arrive in Canada over the next five years under the program, CBC News reported.
About 200 Tibetans will have moved to Canada by mid-2014, said Nima Dorjee, president of the Project Tibet Society, which is managing the five-year project. Most will move to the Toronto area, Ottawa, Calgary, British Columbia's Lower Mainland or to Vancouver Island.
The plan was created after Tibet's spiritual leader in exile, the Dalai Lama, met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2007 and asked that Canada invite more Tibetan exiles to relocate there from the northern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Tibet is currently claimed by China as part of its territory, and Canada officially recognizes China as the government of Tibet.
Dorjee said the group that arrived Friday have lived their entire lives in exile.
"The exiles are the custodians of the hopes of a nation," Dorjee said.