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Reem Suwaidan celebrates her first Canada Day after arriving in Canada 8 months ago. In Iraq, she was a teacher. Today she is learning English at Immigrants Working Centre.

For Reem Suwaidan, this Canada Day is significant. It’s her first one in Canada.

Arriving in Canada just eight months ago, she began attending English classes at IWC shortly after. Today, she volunteers with administrative staff while learning English.

“I’m feeling so glad to have come to Canada,” she explains. Originally from Baghdad, Iraq, Reem was displaced by war and lived in Turkey for three years waiting for resettlement. Hamilton is now her home.

Reem was just one of the one hundred newcomers that joined together on June 14 at 11:30 a.m. to celebrate Canada’s Birthday together. The students and staff gathered to sing the National Anthem at Main Street and James Street in Hamilton, outside of the Immigrants Working Centre’s main office. The lead singer was Lil Acevedo, a local jazz singer originally from El Salvador.

[Right] Syrians Hazem and Fadi came to Canada one year ago, and are so happy to call Hamilton home.

“I very much like Canada. People are very kind,” Reem continued. “They are like a big family welcoming refugees coming here. This is a big lovely country. Now I feel more comfortable – I have lots of friends and family now.”

Newcomer Riad Khalil was also proud to be celebrating Canada Day for the first time. “Coming to Canada was my dream,” Riad said. “I am very happy that I am with my family, and that I found how many people are very welcoming here.”

Only in Canada for three months, he was reunited with his wife and daughter after being apart for three years.

“For all of us, this is a celebration of peace for our new and adopted country we call home,” said Ines Rios, Executive Director at IWC.

Canada celebrations took place at each of IWC’s locations.

English students and graduates from IWC’s Intensive Communication for Work program came together to sing O Canada.

English Teacher Aseel Salman joined in Canada’s Birthday celebrations on June 14 outside Immigrants Working Centre’s Main Street location.

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