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Refugee Program Stories

I Call Canada Home

“It has been one year since I arrived in Canada. Every day I am feeling a little better and less shocked. I never imagined myself starting a new life in another country, but Toronto has been a great place to start over.Things we were dreaming to someday happen in my country are real here. Now I don’t see myself as a gay person in the middle of a battleground. Instead I see myself as a resident of a country that I can emotionally connect with and call home.” – Sponsored refugee


They Gave Me 3 Choices

“When I was 18 and my boyfriend was 20, I was discovered to be gay by Iranian officials. They gave me 3 choices – they could kill me and I would be ‘fixed’ when I went to Paradise; I could undergo therapy to change my sexual orientation to heterosexual; or because I had completed my mandatory military service, they would give me a passport and I could leave the country. I knew others who had undergone the ‘therapy’ – they later killed themselves. I chose to leave. My boyfriend hadn’t completed military service, so he didn’t have a passport, so he had to pay someone to lead him over the border at night.
That was a hard night for me. They sweep border areas with searchlights and if they find you in the light, they shoot you. But he made it. We spent 2 years in Turkey waiting to be sponsored. The UN High Commission for Refugees asked us what country we wanted to go to. We said Canada, because we knew here we would be free and our relationship respected. MCC Toronto sponsored us both. They met us at the airport and gave us housing for the first few weeks while they helped us find permanent housing. They got us enrolled in ESL classes, get our health cards and other documents, introduced us to Toronto, and gave us emotional and practical support. Two years later, we’re doing well – we’re both working, we love Toronto and appreciate the help MCC Toronto gave us to start new lives together. I want others to have the freedom and the life I’m able to build here.” – Sponsored refugee