It has been 20 years since a brutal civil war broke out in the small European territory of Kosovo.

By the end of the conflict, 15,000 people would lie dead and hundreds of thousands would be forced out of their homes — becoming refugees and fleeing to far-flung countries across the globe.

It was during the civil war that Canada opened its doors to over 5,500 refugees through Operation Parasol, a project that would come to be affectionately known as the Kosovar airlift.

On May 7, 1999, a Kosovo Albanian mother and child bound for Canada leave for the airport from the Stenkovec refugee camp outside Skopje, Macedonia. They are among hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled Serbian forces in Kosovo in the previous month. Canada airlifted more than 5,000 people from Kosovo in the late 1990s.

Nova Scotia played a key part with about half of the refugees landing in the province.

When stability returned to Kosovo, about one-third of the refugees chose to return home while the rest made the decision to stay and rebuild their lives in Canada.

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