Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets Afghan refugee family

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with a family of newly settled Afghan refugees on Saturday, marking the start of Thanksgiving weekend with what he said was an important reminder.

Trudeau met Obaidullah Rahimi, who began working at the Canadian embassy in Kabul in 2008 and was hired full-time last year, in a home in Ottawa, where volunteers prepared gift baskets to give to resettled Afghan families.

“This is what Thanksgiving is all about, and reflects on how lucky we are,” Trudeau said.

Rahimi came to Canada with his wife, three-year-old daughter and a baby who is now one and a half months old when Afghanistan fell to the Taliban this year.

Rahimi said he loved working at the Canadian embassy and found Canadians friendly.

“Thank you, thank you for having us here and thank you for everything you did,” he said.

More than 1,000 refugees from Afghanistan have arrived in Canada since the Taliban took over their homeland this summer.

The government has committed to resettling 40,000 people from Afghanistan.

Trudeau said Canadians are happy that Rahimi and his family are safe.

“We are excited to bring you here to the next stage of your life,” Trudeau said.

“It’s an important thing to be there for so many of your countrymen who have suffered and who have faced a setback now with the Taliban – a terrible thing, but we will continue to work together towards a better future.”

For an Afghan family in Calgary, there is much to be thankful for, even if they are not used to celebrating the holiday.

Azatullah said his family of 13 moved into a permanent home last Friday after staying in temporary housing since arriving in Canada a month and a half ago. He asked that his last name not be used because he still has family members in Afghanistan.

“We appreciate the Government of Canada for helping us through a very difficult time,” he said in an interview Saturday. He also appreciates local organizations and people who helped his family find housing and provided information about life in Canada.

His family came to Canada because his late brother worked at the Canadian embassy, ​​he said. With Azatullah to Canada were his mother, sister-in-law and his siblings’ children.

He is worried about his two brothers, a sister and a sister-in-law who are still in Afghanistan and hopes to bring them to Canada as well. Three of the nephews who accompanied him to Canada came without their mother, he said.

Still, he’s hopeful for his future in Canada, and even though it’s a quiet Thanksgiving this time around, he said he plans to celebrate the holiday next year.

“I feel comfortable here.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 9, 2021.

This story was produced with financial assistance from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Correction:

This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Canada has committed to resettling 20,000 people from Afghanistan, while the number is 40,000.

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