The Welcome House through the Eyes of Former Residents

Meet three former residents who stayed at the Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre between years 1994 and 2006.

Part 3: Ali Khavari - Afghanistan

At that time, we thought about whether we would be accepted here or not. Are we going to survive? Will we find jobs? Will the future be good for us? When I applied for asylum and Canada accepted us, one of my children was very sick. My biggest fear was about my kids and whether there would be help for them here. I think a lot and when it’s quiet, I think about everything.
This house brings people from all places and religions. There were many different languages spoken. Some came from Russia, some from Iran and Afghanistan, from all over. When I stayed, there was a family from Africa. That was the first time we saw people from Africa. My kids were really interested.
Leena the resettlement coordinator showed me how to use the phone for the first time. I couldn’t believe I could talk on the phone. I made maybe 10–15 calls to my family in Iran. They asked me how I was, I said yeah I am here now. Everything is fine.
Being a refugee in Iran was difficult. There is no support for refugees there. For example, you can’t have a car under your name. You can’t own a house and if you employer likes you, they will pay you. If he doesn’t like you, then you will not be paid. The government doesn’t do anything about that. They don’t care.
I feel sad when I hear the stories of people dying in the ocean on their way to Europe. They want a better future or at least to live a good life. There have been a lot of those stories in the last couple of years and that’s very sad. Especially the children, there have been stories of kids who died at sea.
Life in Canada was tough at the beginning. I worked 7 days a week because I had to support my family in Iran. I was supporting four families including my two brothers and their kids. There were days I did not see my own children. I would leave when they were asleep and come home while they slept. I had a lot of responsibilities then.
You can do anything if you believe in yourself. When I first came, I could not speak English. I knew it was going to be difficult, so I went to school for a year. My life is fine, thank God. I have a job, a house and a family. My daughter is 16 now and my son is 15. They are in high school and junior high.