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CALGARY: Fariborz Birjandian, head of Calgary Catholic Immigration society, thinks Canada should take in more Syrian refugees

October 10, 2014 7:20 pm

Refugee families now call Calgary home thanks to local help

By  and   Global News

It’s been a year since Fadi Yacoub and his family fled from war-torn Syria to Lebanon.

Once in Lebanon they applied for refugee status, and a year later Calgary is their home.

Yacoub says the year-long wait was well worth it.

“I’m happy that I’m here,” he says. “I want a good future for my kids; it’s been four years that they didn’t go to school. “

There are currently more than three million Syrian refugees in the world, a number that climbs daily.

Yacoub’s wife, Ralda, knows how lucky her family is.

Canada, I heard from a lot of people that it’s a safe place, “says Ralda. “Thank god now that I’m here, I feel like my life is back again.”

While the family is grateful, the transition from Syria to Canada has had its challenges. Their daughter Perla is still adjusting to life in Calgary.

“It’s very hard for me because the culture is different, the language is different and the weather is a big thing,” she explains. “I miss my friends and I miss my family back home and I miss my country.”

What the family doesn’t miss is the violence. As long as it continues they know there is no going home.

Right now the head of the Calgary Catholic Immigration society says that Canada does have the capacity to take in more Syrian refugees.

Fariborz Birjandian thinks the process could be quicker.


So far Canada has taken in 1,500 Syrian refugees.


Fariborz Birjandian

Fariborz Birjandian
Executive Director

From the local level to international, Fariborz Birjandian has served on many committees, boards and task forces related to immigration, refugees, diversity, equal rights and the cultural arts. He became a refugee when he left his home country of Iran and settled for a brief time in Lahore, Pakistan, where he began his involvement and work with refugees through the UNHCR. Fariborz was resettled to Canada, where he volunteered with CCIS and soon began work as a Settlement Counselor for the organization. For the past 14 years, he has been the Executive Director of CCIS and is responsible for over 200 staff, 1,300 volunteers and overseeing approximately 70 programs.

Fariborz’s community involvement for the past 20 years in Canada is varied and extensive. He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his involvements including, Government of Canada’s Citation for Citizenship, the Queen’s Jubilee Commemorative Medal and the Alberta Centennial Medal.

Fariborz’s formal education is in Maritime Science and Administration Management.


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