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Newcomer Youth Behrooz Toloh Embraces Possibilities in Search of Home & Belonging

19-year-old Behrooz Toloh believes that finding ways to engage in your community helps develop a sense of belonging and confidence. That’s why it was important for him to get involved when he first arrived in Peterborough.

Arriving in Canada in 2016 at 15 years old, Behrooz was starting a new life in a new country at a difficult age. In an unfamiliar environment and culture, he was faced with the trying challenge of continuing his education after missing school for more than one year in Afghanistan.

One week after arriving in Canada, Behrooz had a meeting with the Settlement Workers in Schools team at the NCC to help him get ready for schooling. Feeling nervous and excited, he was given a tour of the Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School where he met other friendly students from the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program. Shortly after, he was enrolled in the ESL classes, but quickly began to push himself to try mainstream classes.

Outside of school, he joined the High School Homework Group at the NCC, found a part-time job, and played on and captained his school and city soccer teams. Getting involved, meeting the demands of a job, and finding success as a star soccer player helped build his confidence and maturity.

At his High School Graduation from Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School, Behrooz was awarded the Ferne Cristall English Language Learner Award. The scholarship award is given to an English language learner graduating from a Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board high school who has held tight to their deep desire to learn and continue schooling despite facing challenges. The award honours teacher and mentor, Ferne Cristall, and was created by her colleagues and community members following her retirement as an ELL teacher.

Today, Behrooz has become a trustworthy employee and is looking forward to attending the Computer Security and Investigations Program at Fleming College in January 2020. These successes are due to his positive approach to facing problems and embracing possibilities as he settles and builds his life here in Peterborough.


This story is part of the New Canadians Centre’s #WeBelong Campaign – Celebrating 40 Years of Inspiring and Encouraging Newcomers.

The #WeBelong Campaign shares powerful stories of Belonging, Home, Hope, and Community from our 40 Years. Follow along with the stories and opportunities on our page: www.nccpeterborough.ca/webelong