My name is Halyna Lotfi Ghamrodi. I came from Ukraine to Canada. I was born in Lviv where I grew up and studied and later on I used to teach at Lviv National Polytechnic University just before the war broke out. It's a Polytechnic University with the number of 35,000 students and we have a huge department of teachers maybe a hundred teachers in it and we try to do our best to teach the future generation. So here when I came here I didn't know what I was going to do but I assumed I would teach that is my prime call. So I applied to different possible institutions to get a job. I was called to come to Wesley it's a non-profitable charitable organization that helps refugees who come over to Canada and they formed the group, the team of people who would help Ukrainians. And I thought that would be my call to help my people and I jump on this opportunity to to be useful.
It was a very very stressful situation because we were told not to worry that everything was going to be good, relaxed and we didn't panic but everywhere abroad were sending us messages move out move out you're going to be under attack. And I was contacted by government of Canada saying that we would like you to move out and we give you the last day on Tuesday. So on Monday I went to the airport and had the last ticket on Wednesday and I flew out just the last day. And on Thursday the air was closed and the war broke out.
Every day is a challenge every day is a victory and every day I believe more and more in myself and getting my education assessed by WES World Educational Services gave me a lot of joy and opportunities here being who I am at home and teaching as associate professor at Lambton College. I am very proud of myself and I believe that Canada and other countries, developed countries that's what we are trying to reach at home freedom of speech, the possibilities what you have, you have goals, you go for it and you achieve things. That is that is what modern society is about.
Hamilton is a very nice city it's the feeling of being comfortable and being like home. As soon as the stress is gone I feel more like part of the community. I go to the cinema and theaters and experience different cuisine that is here, like you have many wonderful things here in Hamilton. Your downtown is architectural pearl. So it's very nice being here.No one is shooting and bombing so that is a huge asset to having peace.
Hamilton is a community for me and I would love to call Hamilton my second home.
When the war broke out in Ukraine in the Spring of 2022, Alyna and her daughter were two of the many forced to say goodbye to their home in search of safety.
As a highly accomplished educator in Ukraine with extensive experience working in the post-secondary sector, Alyna arrived in Hamilton with a strong desire to use her skills to help the Ukrainian community in Canada. This opportunity came when she was hired to work at Wesley, shortly after her arrival. Along with helping support fellow newcomers, Alyna also works as a college instructor using her recognized credentials to full capacity.
Still a newcomer to Hamilton, Alyna loves to explore nature and local businesses and continues to look for ways to turn her new city into a second home for her and her daughter.
War and conflicts are major drivers of mass displacement of people around the world. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that at the end of 2021, the total number of people worldwide who were forced to flee their homes due to conflicts, violence, fear of persecution and human rights violations had reached 89.3 million. More recently, the political situation in Afghanistan in 2021 and the war in Ukraine in 2022 led to mass migration of people. In response, the government of Canada launched special immigration measures to bring 40,000 Afghans and an unlimited number of Ukrainians to safety in Canada.
- Canada welcomed over 218,000 refugees from 2016 to 2021.
- As a result of the war in Ukraine, over 15.5 million people fled the country in 2022. Nearly 140,000 came to Canada in the same year, with many choosing Hamilton to live.
- In addition, from the fall of Kabul in August 2021 to January 2023, over 27,000 Afghan refugees arrived in Canada with Hamilton welcoming hundreds of them..
- Hamilton is home to many refugees. Almost 30% of permanent residents landing in Hamilton between 2016 and 2021 were refugees.
- Like other immigrants, refugees face challenges in their settlement journeys in Canada, including learning official languages, finding employment commensurate with their skills, finding housing, reuniting with family, and accessing healthcare.