I am a single mother with two teenage children, 17 years old girl and a 15 year old boy. We came to Canada as refugees from Iran. We had to stay in a refugee camp in Turkey for a year and half, worked hard to make ends meet. Unfortunately my children could not go to school there as there were no schools for refugees of their age in the camp.
Being part of a prosecuted religious minority In Iran, we were were very restricted in our post-secondary and career opportunities. In fact, there was no bright future for my children there if they seek advanced education in Iran.
When I met with my settlement worker at Edmonds Community School in January 2015, I realized I could have a hope despite all the difficulties and anxieties we had during our journey to Canada. I remember I kept asking her about the school and how my children could start school as soon as possible. Our settlement worker helped us with registration at Byrne Creek School and arrange for English testing for both my children at Welcome Center. She took us for a tour around the school, introduced us to school staff and let us know about resources and supports in the school and in the community. We got access to foodbanks and clothes, learnt about after school homework clubs and other school programs. We were still struggling financially.
Our first goal has always been education, and my kids wanted to start school as soon possible.
With the help of our settlement worker, school and ELL teachers, we made it possible. The early start gave my daughter and son a good opportunity to get to know the school, the staff and the most important part – find friends.
We received a lot of support that helped us to feel safe and welcome in the school, we started learning about further education, job opportunities and resources. My daughter participated in a career conference for youth “Green Collar Futures” where she learnt about new careers in BC.
My son participated in “Body Worlds & the Brain” Program that gave him a chance to find more friends. I believe this made him feel confident and welcome.
Both my children have excelled academically.
I received a referral to Edmonds community school to attend the parenting programs. Now I go to ELL full time. I was also provided information about employment and workshops available in the community as finding work is very important for new immigrants.
Knowing how much my family has accomplished during this short period of time after our arrival makes me feel proud and very thankful for all the help and support my family has received from our settlement worker, school staff and other people.
Shahnaz Talei Ardakani