While Conservatives and some media outlets are working to demonize refugees and immigrants, the truth is the vast majority of newcomers are making Canada a better place for everyone. Here are just three stories about refugees making a positive impact on Canada right now.
The Toronto police cadet who fled the Burundi civil war
10 years ago, Alain Arakaza was washing his clothes in a Nairobi river and walking miles to get groceries when he and his family had to flee their home in Burundi due to civil war. He would frequently go without food, had to stop going to school, and dealt with the death of his mother while in Nairobi. Arakaza arrived in Canada as a refugee in 2009, living in Ottawa for several years before moving to Toronto.
Now, he’s about to finish his training and become a Toronto police officer.
“Ten years ago [when] I was in Nairobi, I would have never thought I would be sitting in the Toronto police cruiser serving the population of this amazing country that welcomed me,” he said.
The Syrian refugee who’s an aerospace engineer and speaks four languages
Shoushi Bakarian is an aerospace engineering student at Concordia University. She speaks English, French, Armenian and and Arabic, and she only got to Canada from Lebanon in 2015.
21-year-old Bakarian was forced to leave Aleppo when the war had reached a stalemate and her mother needed medical surgery in Lebanon. They spent almost a year there before finally being able to move to Montreal in December 2015. During her first year at university, Bakarian worked 30 hours a week at McDonald’s to help support her family.
Now, she works part-time at Bombardier Aerospace. “I was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted,” she says. “But now I’m making up for it. My family is okay now, and it’s easier,” she said.
The chocolatier who is planning to staff his company with fellow refugees
After a 2012 bombing destroyed his father’s chocolate factory in Syria, Tareq Hadhad fled to Lebanon with his family and spent three years in refugee camps. He moved to Nova Scotia in 2016 and created his own chocolate company, Peace by Chocolate, soon after.
Hadhad recently announced his plan to give back to the communities that assisted his arrival in Canada by hiring and training 50 refugees by 2022 to work in his company’s facilities.
He said Peace by Chocolate circumvents the language barrier many refugees struggle with when they’re new to Canada. “We know that chocolate really doesn’t need that much of language, it’s the universal language of love and peace,” he said.