Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Hamilton on Friday to meet with some of the families who are among the more than 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 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 made a “terrible” trip from Afghanistan, and Wahidi said he was grateful to the Canadian government.
More than 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 welcomed 12,605 Afghan refugees to Canada. Of the 415 in Hamilton, 335 are government-assisted refugees and 80 were privately sponsored. The website also says another 4,590 applications have been received.
Wesley Urban Ministries helped resettle incoming families in the area. He told CBC Hamilton in April that he had permanently housed almost all of the families who had arrived, with around 27 government-assisted Afghan refugees still in temporary accommodation, and that resettlement was continuing.
“A new Afghan family arrived this week,” the organization said at the time.
Meanwhile, the immigration backlog to bring new people into the country is high.
Data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) showed that the country had a backlog of over 1.8 million immigration applications on February 1.
More recent data from IRCC shows that 110,661 refugee claims 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 hoped to buy a house in the next few years.
“Canada benefits so much from having families like yours help build stronger communities and futures,” Trudeau said.
The Prime Minister also met Mirwaise Sadaat, his wife Zuhal and their children 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” to have had the opportunity to help.
Trudeau said with the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Canada must provide even more humanitarian support.
Hepfner told Trudeau that Sadaat has extended family in Afghanistan and hopes he can come to Canada.
Trudeau said the government was working on how to attract more people, “and not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s so good for Canada.”