Since 2016, the New Canadians Centre has been operating the Resettlement Assistance Program through in Peterborough to resettle up to 75 individuals each year through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The program was created through a community-wide effort when the local community rallied together to answer a call for urgent humanitarian measures in response to people fleeing the war in Syria. With funding support from the Federal Government, Province of Ontario, City of Peterborough, and generous donors, the program began in Peterborough.

Since then, the Resettlement Assistance Program in Peterborough has resettled 79 families comprising 374 individuals, most of which have joined us from Syria.

The Khirou family was one of the first Government-Assisted Refugee (GAR) families to arrive in Peterborough in 2016.

Originally from Aleppo, Syria, the family of seven fled to Turkey on September 26, 2012 where they lived and operated a small convenience store in a refugee camp for four years, dreaming of an opportunity to live in Canada. In 2016, their application for resettlement was accepted; and exactly 4 years after they fled Syria, they arrived in Canada, destined for Peterborough, Ontario.

The New Canadians Centre provided transitional supports through the Resettlement Assistance Program during the family’s first year in Canada. These supports included getting oriented to life in Canada, obtaining essential Canadian identity documents, finding stable permanent housing, and completing language assessments for enrollment into English programs and school. These supports along with the community connections established through the family’s volunteer support team were vital to helping them settle in a new city and country.

Determined to begin working, the father Ali Khirou spent his first year in Canada learning English through language courses at the LINC Program at Fleming College and the ESL Program at PACE. Within one year, Ali’s English had improved so tremendously that he was hired full-time at Crayola Canada; a job he continues to maintain two years later. The children continue to be regulars at NCC Youth Programs like the Youth After School Group, various outings and social trips, and skills-building training programs.

The Khirous represent the transformation that can happen when people are given opportunities to succeed, especially when coming from unstable and life-threatening situations. They are one of 79 families now living their dream in Peterborough.