Muhammad Aamir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter
The Government of Canada has said it’s working hard to resettle at least 40,000 Afghan nationals as quickly and safely as possible.
Canada has now welcomed a total of 14,485 Afghan refugees, with more arriving every week.
Resettlement Assistance Program service provider organizations (RAP SPOs) are working to make newcomers, including Afghans, feel welcomed in their new communities.
The Resettlement Assistance Program provides government-assisted refugees with immediate and essential supports for their most basic needs such as, temporary housing, help with finding permanent housing and registering them and their families for essential federal and provincial programs.
Ontario’s Thunder Bay Multicultural Association has welcomed close to 100 Afghan newcomers since August 2021. They offer information, orientation and referral services in the broader community that help newcomers with their integration.
Since August 2021, Catholic Social Services (CSS) in Edmonton, Alberta, has welcomed over 500 Afghan refugees in Edmonton and Red Deer, including 170 human rights defenders and their families.
CSS helped resettle this group of human rights defenders by providing language training, orientation, accommodation and other resources. Since their resettlement, the human rights defenders have started connecting with local museums to explore how they can work together to preserve documentation on human rights abuses and war crimes in Afghanistan and tell their story through the arts.
The Association for New Canadians in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, helped welcome more than 275 Afghan refugees in the province since August 2021. They’ve worked in collaboration with local businesses, churches and community members to collect household items, toys, clothes and cash donations to help the newly arrived refugees.
In November 2021, they teamed up with 1620 Electrical Workers Union, which had amassed more than $30,000, to support the private sponsorship of an Afghan family to resettle in the province.
In January 2022, Canada announced an investment of $35 million to expand settlement services for newcomers in small towns and rural communities. This investment includes $21 million to add 9 new RAP SPOs in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick.
Hazrat Khan, an Afghan refugee who has recently settled in Milton, said that the government initiatives were helping him integrate in the society faster than he had imagined.
He said that although he had come from a vastly different background, the Canadian society was accepting him warmly.