Last Fall, we shared a story about 24-year old Khidir Bkdach, who through community support and sheer determination began studies at Fleming College to become an accountant. Read last year’s story.
Last year, he said “I want to be an accountant. And then I hope to get a job and continue building my life in Peterborough. I came here to help. Canada is a great country. And I want to make it even better.
One year later, he says, “Now I know I belong here. I’m a Canadian.”
Here’s an update on Khidir, one year later as he continues to seek and embrace opportunities.
“Now I know I belong here. I’m a Canadian.” – Khdir Bkdach
Khidir Bkdach is familiar with the delicious smell of warm oatmeal and maple syrup coming from the Quaker plant (PepsiCo Foods Canada Quaker Peterborough Plant) when he walks across the Hunter Street Bridge. “I live in East City,” says 24-year-old Khidir. “I walk across the bridge to get to my home.” During this past summer, the plant was ‘home’ to Khidir’s employer, PepsiCo Foods. “I worked in the finance department,” says the second year Fleming College student. “I’m studying Business Administration. I want to be an accountant when I’m finished school.
“I’ve had the chance to get to know Khidir and watched him embrace the opportunities presented to him. Khidir’s volunteer and work experience at the New Canadians Centre led me to believe he would jump in and give it his all. And he did.” – Michael Vailliant-Saunders
“It was a short-term employment opportunity that needed to be filled right away,” says Michael Valliant-Saunders, Customer Value Chain Manager, PepsiCo Foods Canada. In addition to the employment connection, Michael is a member of a volunteer support team that helped welcome Khidir and his family when they arrived from Homs three years ago. Both Michael and his partner, Gayle, are part of Team Bienvenue. “I’ve had the chance to get to know Khidir and watched him embrace the opportunities presented to him,” Michael says. “I needed someone who possesses a strong work ethic and is committed to following through for this particular job. Khidir’s volunteer and work experience at the New Canadians Centre led me to believe he would jump in and give it his all. And he did.”
Still in high school when the war broke out in Syria, Khidir continued his education at home, on his own. First a client of the NCC, volunteer and in 2018 a member of the staff, Khidir has worked extremely hard to learn English and to integrate into a community that’s welcomed him. “Khidir is keen to explore Canada and to embrace new experiences and cultures,” Michael says. “He’s immersed himself in his new life, developed skills and his ability to speak English. If I put myself in Khidir’s shoes, I don’t know if I would have done as well as he has. I admire his determination.”
For Khidir, his journey from a refugee camp in Turkey has been a long one, and not without its struggles. “Sometimes it’s really overwhelming. But now I know I belong here. I’m a Canadian.”
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