Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Hamilton on Friday to meet some of the families who are among the over 400 Afghan refugees who have resettled in the Ontario city.
Trudeau and his son Xavier visited the Eastern Food Market on Upper Wentworth Street, where Hamilton Mountain MP Lisa Hepfner introduced the prime minister to two families.
Trudeau met with Ahmad Najib Wahidi, his wife Marghana and their 14-month-old daughter Harir.
Harir was born in Afghanistan and the family arrived in Canada in October.
Hepfner told Trudeau they had a “harrowing” journey from Afghanistan, and Wahidi said he’s grateful for the Canadian government.
Over 400 Afghan refugees in Hamilton
The Taliban took control of Afghanistan last fall, prompting people to try to leave the country.
The federal government says on its website it has welcomed 12,605 Afghan refugees to Canada. Of the 415 in Hamilton, 335 are government-assisted refugees and 80 have been privately sponsored. The website also says 4,590 other applications have been received.
Wesley Urban Ministries has helped resettle incoming families in the area. It told CBC Hamilton in April that it had permanently housed almost all the families that had arrived, with around 27 Afghan government-assisted refugees still in temporary accommodations, and that resettlement was continuing.
“We had a new Afghan family arrive this week,” the organization said at the time.
Meanwhile, the immigration backlog to bring new people to the country is high.
Data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) showed the country had a backlog of more than 1.8 million immigration applications as of Feb. 1.
More recent IRCC data shows 110,661 refugee applications were waiting to be processed as of April 26.
Others who have already arrived, like Wahidi, hope to build a new life. He told Trudeau he has hopes of buying a home in the next few years.
“Canada benefits so much from families like yours coming and helping build stronger communities and futures,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister also met Mirwaise Sadaat, his wife Zuhal and their kids Atresa, 8, Zoya, 6, and Haris, almost 2.
Sadaat worked for Global Affairs Canada in its embassy in Kabul.
He told Trudeau he was “grateful” for the opportunity to help.
Trudeau said that with the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, Canada needs to contribute even more humanitarian support.
Hepfner told Trudeau Sadaat has extended family in Afghanistan he hopes can come to Canada.
Trudeau said the government is working on how to bring in more people, “and not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s so good for Canada.”