Stories of Learning and Hope

Asian Heritage Month – Shafiq Hakimi

Shafiq Hakimi, now a Manager in our Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), lived for most of his life in Asia. As he explains below, his time in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, has deeply influenced his lift and career and he sees his experience of Asian culture and heritage as a strength in both his professional and personal life.

Shafiq’s success is a testament to both his talents and the value and importance of diversity and inclusion at ISSofBC and across Canada. We hope you enjoy

How did you find your way to ISSofBC? 

I was working with a different settlement agency in Richmond when I got the opportunity to go to Toronto to help with the arrival of the first chartered flights from Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul in 2021. Over the course of a few weeks, I worked with a number of staff from ISSofBC. I was really impressed by their hard work and commitment and decided to apply for a MAP case management role. Fortunately, I was selected and started working for ISSofBC in October 2021. 

Shafiq and his colleagues at BBC Afghan Educational Project in Pakistan

How do you identify with your Asian heritage? Do you think it’s influenced your experiences in Canada and your outlook on your work at ISSofBC? 

I have lived and worked over three decades of my life in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. My life has been enriched by the knowledge of the cultures of these countries and I have been able to learn to speak Hindi and Urdu in addition to my native Farsi and Pashto languages of Afghanistan.  

It has been the experiences and knowledge of living and working in these countries that have prepared me to work across different cultures and other social divides. I find it easy to connect with people on different levels ranging from personal to professional. My experience means that I can easily connect with many different communities and feel I can belong.  

Are there any traditions that you or your family still find important and if so, what are they? 

There are a number of traditions that I feel are vital in bringing people together. Nawruz ( my personal favorite Persian new year), Vaisakhi and Holi spring festivals, as well as other traditions such as Ramadan and Eid festivals where people come together and celebrate being together and life in general are the festivals that I celebrate and cherish. 

Shafiq shares food with friends during a tour of Bamyan, Afghanistan

Do you think Asian Heritage Month is important? If so, why? 

Absolutely, I think dedicating a whole month to Asian Heritage is an important gateway to the hearts and minds of all Asian and Asian-rooted people who call Canada home.

I believe this month allows them to feel connected to this country, people and cultures even more and enjoy the diversity that has enriched and influenced our lives in this beautiful country. It also provides an opportunity for people of other backgrounds and cultures to learn and enjoy these special occasions and value the philosophies that these celebrations are based upon. 

What would you like to say to other newcomers coming from Asia who want to build their lives in Canada? 

This country is diverse and welcoming where people’s views, traditions and contributions are valued. People in Canada not only like and are proud of their histories, culture and traditions but also take pride in valuing and respecting other traditions and cultures.  

The diversity and appreciation of others’ cultures and traditions makes life familiar and less intimidating for newcomers. It makes the journey of resettlement and integration in this country a lot easier and more fun.

We hope you enjoyed Shafiq’s article for Asian Heritage Month. If you’d like to learn more about Shafiq’s work in our Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) visit our website.

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