Every year, Canada welcomes people from other countries who move here to begin a new life. Your interest in reading this profile may arise from being involved in an organized HOST Program, where you have the opportunity to meet newcomers from Afghanistan and introduce them to Canadian life. Perhaps your workplace or school brings you into contact with Afghans. Whatever your source of your interest, this profile will help you learn something about Afghanistan and its people.
From 1979 to 1989, Afghanistan was occupied by the Soviet Union. Since then, it has been torn apart by civil wars based on religious and ethnic divisions, and in October 2001, by American invasion in response to terrorist affiliations. Afghanistan has produced more refugees than any country in recent world history. A small number of refugees and immigrants have been coming to Canada for decades; most of them have settled in the Toronto region.
Many Afghans’ settlement and initial adaptation will be affected by the experiences they suffered before coming to Canada. Some might have endured war directly and been separated from family members; others might have been confined to refugee camps. Nevertheless, newcomers from Afghanistan will have many of the same questions that you would have if you moved to a new country or city. They will wonder how to find employment, where to shop, what schools their children will attend and what their new community is like. You can help your new friends settle by answering their questions. You’ll also find that you will learn much more from them than any book.
Although this cultural profile provides insights into some customs, it does not cover all facets of life. The customs described may not apply in equal measure to all newcomers from Afghanistan.