Community, Compassion and a New Canadian

by Maritime
Categories: 2020, Blog, News Archive

A dedication for helping others, a passion for community, a new Canadian citizenship – this is just the beginning of what makes Ahmad Ismail an extraordinary member of The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope team

Since he started just over a year ago, he played an integral role in helping refugees by communicating with them in their native language and educating them on programs that are available. He also uses his own experience as a refugee to provide comfort during their time of need.

Choosing Safety

Ahmad was just beginning university when the war began in Syria. His family was quickly forced to choose between the home they loved and their safety. The Ismail’s claimed refugee status in Turkey. Shortly after, the family received a call with an opportunity to relocate to Canada. They leapt at the chance.

“The interview at the Canadian embassy in Turkey took more than six hours. I explained how I desperately wanted to go to university again. To learn. To find a home. To be safe,” says Ahmad. “I was so grateful when I found out we were accepted. It was life-changing.” 

In February 2016, the three brothers arrived in Halifax, leaving their parents behind in Turkey. To his excitement, Ahmad was given a scholarship to the East Coast School of Languages to learn English. 

“I worked hard and in three months I was fluent,” explains Ahmad. “I studied there for a year and a half, then I began taking courses in business administration.”

When Ahmad began looking for employment, he wanted to apply his skills at an organization where he could give back to the community that helped him during his time of need. That’s when he started working for The Salvation Army.

“A year ago I started part-time with Open Arms after-school programming, but began helping at the Centre of Hope translating documents for other Syrians. They soon offered me a full-time position,” explains Ahmad. “Here, I’m able to help the community and be part of The Salvation Army family.”

Becoming a Canadian

Shortly after, Ahmad was able to apply for Canadian citizenship. When he told the team, they were thrilled and wanted to support him every way they could. 

“When I told them I had the citizenship exam coming up and asked for time off to study, there was no hesitation. They want to see me succeed.”

Ahmad became a Canadian citizen on January 30 with his Salvation Army family proudly in the front row. 

“We were thrilled to be able to attend the Citizenship ceremony and support Ahmad in receiving his Canadian Citizenship,” says Major Vaden Vincent, executive director of the Centre of Hope. “He makes a great addition to our Salvation Army family.”

Today, Ahmad is working to bring his parents to Canada to reunite his family while he continues his dedication to helping others in the Halifax community. 

“I want to help the community that helped me,” Ahmad smiles “Just like The Salvation Army does every day.”


By: Angela Rafuse