Yaseen Al Shedadat
Yaseen Al Shedadat left Syria because of the war. He travelled to Jordan but fled in 2016 to come to Canada and achieve his dreams.
“I visited many countries while travelling as a chef for an international company. There was no country as beautiful as Canada,” he says. “Canada is a multicultural country that welcomes refugees from all over the world. Once you arrive in Canada, you do not feel like a refugee. You feel you are a new Canadian. In Canada, I am safe. I have a future and I have hope.”
Yaseen says as soon as he left Jordan, he knew there was a better future waiting for him and his children. “Arriving in Canada was an amazing feeling. Everyone welcomed us. It is one of the greatest moments in my life that I will always remember.”
Yaseen’s settlement process went smoothly. He says he is amazed at how the government prepares and supports newcomers, and how agencies like COSTI are assigned to help facilitate the integration of refugee families after they have left temporary accommodations.
“COSTI staff have never made me feel like a refugee,” he says. “They have treated me with full respect from the first day I arrived at the temporary housing shelter. At that time, I came with hundreds and hundreds of other refugee families. COSTI staff were working so hard to support each individual and family by providing support with housing, settlement services, and on-site interpretation. They also organized many orientation sessions to help us understand the general government and health care systems and how everything works. COSTI helped us all feel we are welcome in our new home, Canada.”
Now Yaseen is learning and developing his skills, particularly his English. “I have already achieved some success in Canada. Everyone is happy and so proud of my small achievements – my neighbours and my community,” he says. “It is scary to think about how life would have been if I was not in Canada. I am so thankful that I am in this country. I always tell my friends that every human being deserves to live in a country like Canada, where everyone is equal under the law. There is so much support for anyone in Canada who needs help.”
Yaseen’s dream is to have his own restaurant chain all over Canada. “I want to provide support and job opportunities to other Canadians too. This is my small way of paying back for what Canada has done for me,” he says. “I am also teaching my son the principles of giving back and how we can create job opportunities for the young generation.”
If there’s one thing Yaseen has learned it’s that Canada “gives newcomers happiness, hope and a better life.”
Yaseen and his family came to Canada as part of the federal government’s Operation Syrian Refugees. The year 2016 marked the largest refugee resettlement initiative in Canadian history, with over 46,000 refugees. COSTI was responsible for the resettlement of 2,200 government-sponsored Syrian refugees to Toronto.
The resettlement process does not end when they leave COSTI. Our Client Support Services and Settlement Services provide information and referral to programs and services, interpretation, help with completing documents, and supportive counselling using a case management approach.
Newcomers who arrive in Canada as refugees, come with renewed hope to create better lives for themselves and their families. They bring with them valuable skills and knowledge that contribute to the social fabric of our country. Whether they are government-sponsored, privately-sponsored, or refugee claimants, our role is to welcome them, make them feel secure, and connect them with housing and local communities.
Newcomers want to give back to the country that welcomed them. They want to have the ability to communicate in English and want to secure employment as soon as possible, allowing them to independently support their children and families. COSTI is working with donors and community partners to further develop programming that addresses the employment, language, settlement and mental health needs of our clients. Enhancing services and partnerships ensures that we are doing all we can to help in the adjustment, settlement and engagement of newcomers.