New Dawn Reception Centre welcomes family

News Oct 02, 2009 Ancaster News

A 12-year-old boy who had to sneak into a book store to read about Harry Potter is hoping life in Canada will provide many opportunities for himself and his family.

Hajir Tahir Utman, along with his mother Sheren, sister Nigin and stepfather Mohamid-Amin Nawbahar, arrived in Canada from Turkey on Sept. 16.

They had been in Turkey for about seven years after fleeing Iran.

Surviving on $150 a month from the United Nations in Turkey, there was no extra money for a $30 book, so he stopped in a local bookstore every day and read two pages of his favourite novel.

That is, until the day a police officer grabbed him forcefully by the ear and brought him home, warning him not to try to read for free again.

Hajir, who hopes to be a veterinarian one day, says he’s glad to be in a country where he has access to books and is free to learn.

“I’m very lucky to come to Canada,” he said through an interpreter two days after his arrival.

Hajir and his family are the first family to be housed at the New Dawn Reception Centre, the most recent initiative of Settlement and Integration Services Organization (SISO).

The New Dawn centre, located on the Mountain brow at the end of Upper James St., is designed to assist government-sponsored refugees and improve resettlement services in the city.

SISO purchased the century-old mansion from Christ Church Unity in January for $1.8 million. It has been renovating the building since May.

Humanitarian agreements

Through its humanitarian agreements, Canada selects about 7,500 government assisted refugees every year, of which about 400 are destined to start their new lives in Hamilton, which stands out with its diversity and relatively low cost of living.

SISO assists the refugees with getting oriented in their new surroundings, finding housing, mental health and employment counselling, and dealing with Immigration Canada.

Marufa Shinwari, SISO’s refuge assistance program manager, said the New Dawn centre represents a big shift in how they are able to help newcomers.

Previously, immigrants were put up by the government at a hotel for 10 days, but only able to receive help from SISO during business hours.

“It was very difficult to provide services,” she said.

Now they are allowed up to 15 days in a tranquil location and have access to help around the clock rather than be left on their own in a strange new country at night, said Ms. Shinwari.

To help them get started, government-sponsored refugees get their first month’s rent and money for telephone deposit.

They also receive money for last month’s rent in the form of a loan, and a monthly stipend equivalent to Ontario welfare rates. After they move into their new home, a settlement counsellor will stay in touch with them for three years.

Some may argue with the cost, said Ms. Shinwari, but the payoff is well-adjusted new citizens.

“In the long-term it is a big investment for the country,” she said.

Mohamid-Amin Nawbahar said he’s noticed a big and immediate difference between Canada and his former home of Turkey and his first impressions of this country have him looking forward to a new life here.

“Since we arrived at the airport they’ve welcomed us as human beings,” he said.

“We feel very happy.”

New Dawn Reception Centre welcomes family

News Oct 02, 2009 Ancaster News

A 12-year-old boy who had to sneak into a book store to read about Harry Potter is hoping life in Canada will provide many opportunities for himself and his family.

Hajir Tahir Utman, along with his mother Sheren, sister Nigin and stepfather Mohamid-Amin Nawbahar, arrived in Canada from Turkey on Sept. 16.

They had been in Turkey for about seven years after fleeing Iran.

Surviving on $150 a month from the United Nations in Turkey, there was no extra money for a $30 book, so he stopped in a local bookstore every day and read two pages of his favourite novel.

That is, until the day a police officer grabbed him forcefully by the ear and brought him home, warning him not to try to read for free again.

Hajir, who hopes to be a veterinarian one day, says he’s glad to be in a country where he has access to books and is free to learn.

“I’m very lucky to come to Canada,” he said through an interpreter two days after his arrival.

Hajir and his family are the first family to be housed at the New Dawn Reception Centre, the most recent initiative of Settlement and Integration Services Organization (SISO).

The New Dawn centre, located on the Mountain brow at the end of Upper James St., is designed to assist government-sponsored refugees and improve resettlement services in the city.

SISO purchased the century-old mansion from Christ Church Unity in January for $1.8 million. It has been renovating the building since May.

Humanitarian agreements

Through its humanitarian agreements, Canada selects about 7,500 government assisted refugees every year, of which about 400 are destined to start their new lives in Hamilton, which stands out with its diversity and relatively low cost of living.

SISO assists the refugees with getting oriented in their new surroundings, finding housing, mental health and employment counselling, and dealing with Immigration Canada.

Marufa Shinwari, SISO’s refuge assistance program manager, said the New Dawn centre represents a big shift in how they are able to help newcomers.

Previously, immigrants were put up by the government at a hotel for 10 days, but only able to receive help from SISO during business hours.

“It was very difficult to provide services,” she said.

Now they are allowed up to 15 days in a tranquil location and have access to help around the clock rather than be left on their own in a strange new country at night, said Ms. Shinwari.

To help them get started, government-sponsored refugees get their first month’s rent and money for telephone deposit.

They also receive money for last month’s rent in the form of a loan, and a monthly stipend equivalent to Ontario welfare rates. After they move into their new home, a settlement counsellor will stay in touch with them for three years.

Some may argue with the cost, said Ms. Shinwari, but the payoff is well-adjusted new citizens.

“In the long-term it is a big investment for the country,” she said.

Mohamid-Amin Nawbahar said he’s noticed a big and immediate difference between Canada and his former home of Turkey and his first impressions of this country have him looking forward to a new life here.

“Since we arrived at the airport they’ve welcomed us as human beings,” he said.

“We feel very happy.”

New Dawn Reception Centre welcomes family

News Oct 02, 2009 Ancaster News

A 12-year-old boy who had to sneak into a book store to read about Harry Potter is hoping life in Canada will provide many opportunities for himself and his family.

Hajir Tahir Utman, along with his mother Sheren, sister Nigin and stepfather Mohamid-Amin Nawbahar, arrived in Canada from Turkey on Sept. 16.

They had been in Turkey for about seven years after fleeing Iran.

Surviving on $150 a month from the United Nations in Turkey, there was no extra money for a $30 book, so he stopped in a local bookstore every day and read two pages of his favourite novel.

That is, until the day a police officer grabbed him forcefully by the ear and brought him home, warning him not to try to read for free again.

Hajir, who hopes to be a veterinarian one day, says he’s glad to be in a country where he has access to books and is free to learn.

“I’m very lucky to come to Canada,” he said through an interpreter two days after his arrival.

Hajir and his family are the first family to be housed at the New Dawn Reception Centre, the most recent initiative of Settlement and Integration Services Organization (SISO).

The New Dawn centre, located on the Mountain brow at the end of Upper James St., is designed to assist government-sponsored refugees and improve resettlement services in the city.

SISO purchased the century-old mansion from Christ Church Unity in January for $1.8 million. It has been renovating the building since May.

Humanitarian agreements

Through its humanitarian agreements, Canada selects about 7,500 government assisted refugees every year, of which about 400 are destined to start their new lives in Hamilton, which stands out with its diversity and relatively low cost of living.

SISO assists the refugees with getting oriented in their new surroundings, finding housing, mental health and employment counselling, and dealing with Immigration Canada.

Marufa Shinwari, SISO’s refuge assistance program manager, said the New Dawn centre represents a big shift in how they are able to help newcomers.

Previously, immigrants were put up by the government at a hotel for 10 days, but only able to receive help from SISO during business hours.

“It was very difficult to provide services,” she said.

Now they are allowed up to 15 days in a tranquil location and have access to help around the clock rather than be left on their own in a strange new country at night, said Ms. Shinwari.

To help them get started, government-sponsored refugees get their first month’s rent and money for telephone deposit.

They also receive money for last month’s rent in the form of a loan, and a monthly stipend equivalent to Ontario welfare rates. After they move into their new home, a settlement counsellor will stay in touch with them for three years.

Some may argue with the cost, said Ms. Shinwari, but the payoff is well-adjusted new citizens.

“In the long-term it is a big investment for the country,” she said.

Mohamid-Amin Nawbahar said he’s noticed a big and immediate difference between Canada and his former home of Turkey and his first impressions of this country have him looking forward to a new life here.

“Since we arrived at the airport they’ve welcomed us as human beings,” he said.

“We feel very happy.”