Parwaiz Hamidy remembers the relief he felt when he landed in Toronto and knew that his family was safe for the first time in years. He recalls living each day watching over his shoulders as he tried to
protect his wife and two young sons. An interpreter for the Canadian and US armed forces in Afghanistan, Parwaiz had been waiting to relocate to Canada for over ten years. That process was sped up in August 2021 following the Taliban takeover. Parwaiz and his family arrived in Canada in late August and spent the first few weeks in a hotel in Toronto, awaiting their resettlement.
While in Afghanistan, they were introduced to a local volunteer in Peterborough who helped them get their paperwork and applications in order. Knowing that relocating to a new country would be challenging, the support of local volunteers would be instrumental for the family. Parwaiz is grateful to the volunteers who helped his family get to know the city and served as a vital source of connection, motivation, and comfort. The family extend a special thank you to Heather and Mark for their kindness and support. The family’s caseworkers at the New Canadians Centre helped them secure permanent housing, apply for essential documents and services, and ensure the children were enrolled in school. They were also able to secure a spot for Parwaiz’s wife to attend English Language classes.
A trained and experienced lawyer in Afghanistan, Parwaiz faced a significant hurdle in Canada in securing employment as his education and experience are not recognised here. He looks forward to beginning studies in the trades in the fall with the hopes of securing gainful employment soon. He reflects that “life in Canada is different from life in Afghanistan and we have to start all over again. This will be very difficult for us, but we have to fight this problem and move on with our lives.” For now, they are taking a moment to heal and get accustomed to life in Canada. And while it is devastating to be away from their home, they are grateful for the welcome Canadians have given them and the chance at safety and security.
June 20 marks World Refugee Day. On this day, we recognise the 100 million people who have been displaced as a result of war, persecution, discrimination and natural disaster in their home countries. We honour their strength and courage to journey to new lands in search of safety, security, and freedom and acknowledge the hardships that resettlement can post. In 2020/21, the New Canadians Centre supported over 220 Government Assisted Refugees coming from across the world including Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Eritrea, Iraq and more. We support these families in setting up new lives and homes in Peterborough and Northumberland.