Canada welcomes over 200 Afghan refugees to Vancouver

It takes time for people to resettle and support is at the ready says Queenie Choo, chief executive officer of S.U.C.C.E.S.S.| Photo courtesy of Vancouver International Airport

Canada is responding as quickly as possible to the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan by helping bring Afghan citizens and their families safely to their new home. We remain firm in our commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghan nationals, and our partnerships with provinces, territories and settlement service providers across the country are key to achieving this goal.

The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that over 200 Afghan refugees landed in Vancouver last night. This marks the largest flight to date of Afghan nationals arriving in BC. Approximately 161 of them will start their new lives in Vancouver, while the other 48 will settle elsewhere in the country, where they have family ties. This brings the total number of Afghan refugees who have arrived in Canada to over 7,000.

“Now more than ever, we are committed to welcoming vulnerable Afghan refugees in communities across the country. I am proud to welcome over 200 Afghan refugees to Vancouver, and heartened by the dedication and collaboration I witnessed as we help them settle into their new home. This milestone is one of many more to come in the months ahead, and I’m filled with joy to see how Canadians from coast to coast to coast have opened their hearts and homes to their new Afghan neighbours,” says the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

7000 Afghan refugees have arrived in Canada so far. | Photo courtesy of Vancouver International Airport

Passengers on the charter flight, which departed from Islamabad, Pakistan, are primarily individuals whose employment involved a significant or enduring relationship with the Government of Canada, as well as their families.

Throughout this major venture, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has relied on the tremendous support of IRCC-funded Resettlement Assistance Program service provider organizations (RAP SPOs), which have delivered essential services for newcomers and refugees.

The new arrivals were greeted at the Vancouver International Airport by Community Airport Newcomers Network, a RAP SPO program provided by S.U.C.C.E.S.S, a non-profit organization. This program provides winter clothing, arranges transportation and offers initial orientation to newcomers and their families.

“These Afghan refugees have gone through so much emotionally, physically and mentally before arriving in Canada. 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 settled 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. It takes time for people to transition, and we are here to support the belonging, wellness and independence of people in all stages of their Canadian journey,” says Queenie Choo, chief executive officer of S.U.C.C.E.S.S.

B.C. announced a $2 million Refugee Readiness Fund last fall to help Afghans. | Photo courtesy of Vancouver International Airport

Over the next few weeks, these refugees will receive support from the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia (ISSofBC), a RAP SPO whose work is essential to helping refugees adjust to life in Canada. ISSofBC helps refugees find housing and provides information about finding a job, improving their language skills and living in Canada.

“The whole staff and volunteer team here at ISSofBC is proud and humbled to be working alongside IRCC, the BC government and our sector colleagues to welcome and support these newest Afghan arrivals and future Canadians as they start their settlement journey. I want to thank everyone involved for their commitment, hard work and compassion,” says Jonathan Oldman, chief executive officer of ISSofBC.

In November 2021, the BC government announced the Refugee Readiness Fund, a $2 million fund to help boost local services and supports for families resettling in BC due to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The fund will ensure that communities in the province are ready to welcome and respond to the needs of Afghan refugees.

Since Afghan refugees first started arriving in Canada in August 2021, IRCC has been helping them connect with communities where settlement supports are already in place, giving consideration to whether they have family members in Canada, as well as the availability of schools, housing and language training.

The outpouring of support from Canadians for Afghan refugees to date has been incredible. Individuals and businesses looking to get involved through volunteering, donating, sponsoring or supporting the wider resettlement efforts can learn more about how Canadians can help.

“British Columbia looks forward to welcoming Afghan refugees to our province. Our government’s priority is ensuring every newcomer who arrives in BC has access to the services and supports they need to give them the best chance for success and prosperity. In recognition of the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, we announced a $2 million Refugee Readiness Fund last fall to help Afghan refugees feel welcome and safe, and adjust to their new life in British Columbia,” says the Honourable Josie Osborne, British Columbia Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Source: Government of Canada