London, Ont. welcomes 36 Afghan refugees as they begin their new life in Canada

The Government of Canada announced Tuesday that it will continue to exhaust every option to get as many Afghans to safety as possible.

To date, Canada has evacuated roughly 3,700 people from Afghanistan – the majority of whom are refugees who will begin their new lives in this country.

Efforts are underway to help resettle 36 Afghan refugees who arrived in London, Ont. over the weekend. Half of them, children under the age of 15.

Executive director of the Cross Cultural Learner Center (CCLC) Valerian Marochko, says about two dozen families arrived in London, Ont. in great spirits over the weekend.

Marochko says there were “lots of smiles on the faces of those children and the parents too,” as they arrived.

CCLC is one of the local agencies that will assist with resettling the refugees in London. They work alongside all levels of government to insure the refugees are supported with the services they need.

“Starting with housing, starting with learning the language, finding a job, enrolling children in school, finding a family doctor, connecting with the community and making friends,” says Marochko.

After arriving in Canada, the refugees quarantined in Toronto, Ont. and received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, before coming to London, Ont. where they are currently being housed in undisclosed, temporary locations across the city.

Marochko says previous refugee arrivals have helped strengthen the infrastructure – that consists of a network of organization across London, Ont. that help resettle newcomers.

However, they are always looking for volunteers for their Match program that helps integrate the refugees into society.

“You can take a newcomer to a hockey game or go together to a park for a picnic, do activities together so that they get used to Canadian culture,” says Marochko.

Due to covid-19 CCLC says they prefer cash donations so that they can assess the needs of the families and provide them with the appropriate supports.