Jan. 25, 2021
For Immediate Release
Vancouver, B.C. – S.U.C.C.E.S.S. recently welcomed several hundred Afghan refugees to Vancouver and are now providing support as they transition to their news lives in Canada.
After a long journey, several hundred Afghan refugees landed at Vancouver International Airport on Jan 18. Most of them will start their new lives in British Columbia, arriving as government-assisted refugees under the special immigration programs.
Our Community Airport Newcomers Network program (CANN) staff were on hand to provide settlement support immediately upon landing and they continue to help the newcomers over their first weeks in Canada.
“These Afghan refugees have gone through so much emotionally, physically and mentally before arriving in Canada,” said S.U.C.C.E.S.S. CEO Queenie Choo. ‘’Our role at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is to make sure they are physically healthy and mentally well and to support them to get resettled in their new home. We do this by providing settlement support, language training, affordable housing, job skills training, career services, and social services and community programs for vulnerable families, youth and seniors.”
During the operation, there was a moment at the airport which S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Director of Integrated Settlement Services Ryan Drew said demonstrated the truly life-changing impact of this work.
A government representative who spoke Dari recalled how she was approached by a young Afghan girl just after they disembarked from the airplane. The girl quickly asked her: “I heard that in Canada, even girls are allowed to go to school. Is this true?” When she learned that not only could she attend school but that she would also be able to exercise in public and even play soccer – sports are forbidden to women and girls under oppressive Taliban rule – her eyes lit up.
“It was so incredibly heartbreaking to think that this girl had not had the opportunity to go to school or to play sports in her country,” Drew said. “But, it was also heartwarming, because I knew that she would now be able to pursue her dreams and have opportunities here. This exchange fully encapsulated why we do what we do – to ensure that children and families, women and girls, have freedoms and are able to start a new life in our country.”
CANN Senior Manager Suddhodan Baidya said he was grateful for the teamwork of staff, who collaborated with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Canadian Border Services, YVR Airport, the Public Health Agency of Canada and LifeLabs to coordinate support services in advance and then spent more than eight hours at the airport and in hotels assisting newcomers well into the night. Among other things, our team distributed winter clothing, arranged transportation, meals, flights, orientation and referrals to services.
“CANN staff diligently planned the entire landing process,” Baidya said in praise of the team,” and we are happy to be a part of serving Afghan refugees.”
Our CANN program helps greet and orient an average of 25,000 newcomers, 8,000 temporary foreign workers, and 2,500 refugees at the airport each year, and they have helped more than 1.1 million people since CANN was founded in 1992. Our program is part of the Immigrant, Refugees and Citizenship Canada-funded Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), and we are a designated Service Provider Organization (SPO).
This group are among the 40,000 Afghan nationals the Canadian government plans to resettle in the country over the next two years. As government-assisted refugees, Afghans will have access to government-funded immediate and essential services, such as temporary housing and up to 12 months of income support.
“It takes time for people to transition,” Choo said, “and we are here to support the belonging, wellness and independence of people in all stages of their Canadian journey.”
To learn more about this flight and the resettlement of Afghan refugees in Canada, please refer to the government news release:
To learn more about CANN, visit: https://cannyvr.ca/
To watch a CityNews Vancouver report on our work, visit: https://vancouver.citynews.ca/video/2022/01/20/most-of-new-afghan-refugees-will-settle-in-vancouver/
Founded in 1973, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is one of the largest social service agencies in Canada. Our multicultural, non-profit charitable organization offers a wide range of programs and services that promote the belonging, wellness, and independence of people at all stages of their Canadian journey. Programs and services are offered in the areas of newcomer settlement, English language training, employment and entrepreneurship, family, youth and seniors programming, health education, community development, seniors care and affordable housing. Learn more at: successbc.ca.
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Director, Strategic Communications and Partnerships