Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with a newly settled Afghan refugee family on Saturday, ushering in 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, at an Ottawa home where volunteers prepared gift baskets to give to resettled Afghan families.
“This is what Thanksgiving is all about, reflecting 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 that she loved working at the Canadian embassy and that Canadians were friendly.
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“Thank you, thank you for having us here and thank you for all that you did,” he said.
More than 1,000 refugees from Afghanistan have arrived in Canada since the Taliban seized their home country in the summer.
The government has pledged to resettle 40,000 people from Afghanistan.
Trudeau said Canadians are happy that Rahimi and his family are safe.
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“We are happy to bring him here for the next phase of his life,” Trudeau said.
“It is something important to be there for so many of your compatriots who have suffered and who have faced a setback now with the Taliban, something terrible, 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.
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Azatullah said his 13-member family moved into a permanent home on 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 relatives in Afghanistan.
“We appreciate the Government of Canada, who helped us through a very difficult time,” he said in an interview on Saturday. He also appreciates the local organizations and individuals who helped his family find housing and provided him with information about life in Canada.
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His family came to Canada because his late brother worked at the Canadian embassy, he said. Accompanying Azatullah to Canada were his mother, sister-in-law and the children of his brothers.
He is concerned 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 arrived without their mother, he said.
Still, he’s hopeful for his future in Canada, and while it’s a quiet Thanksgiving this time, he said he plans to celebrate the holidays next year.
“I feel comfortable here.”
© 2021 The Canadian Press