Montrealers host winter clothing drive for asylum seekers
Muhammed Khan, his wife and their three children are originally from Pakistan.
Eight months ago, they arrived in Montreal seeking asylum.
They say one thing they’ve had to adapt to is the cold weather.
“This winter, for us, is surprising because in my life I’ve never seen this kind of snow and things. I come from a very hot country,” said Khan.
There are many newcomers like them who arrive in Montreal unprepared.
When Olivia Viveros realized this, she knew she needed to help.
Viveros reached out to the non-profit Welcome Collective, and together they organized a winter clothing drive.
“The atmosphere is getting a bit negative. There’s a lot of negative things being said about asylum seekers, and I wanted to have a positive impact on those families so they can feel welcomed and safe in our country,” she said.
Dozens of families got the chance to pick out coats, snow pants, boots and accessories — all donated by Montrealers.
One of the many volunteers helping families pick out their new winter clothes was Elizabeth Ajoke Ogunsemowo.
An asylum seeker herself, she says she understands what these families are going through.
“I came in from the United States, originally from Nigeria. It’s been an overwhelming experience. I’ve met a lot of kind people here. I came in with nothing — absolutely nothing — and I was nine months pregnant,” she said.
The new mother says that when she arrived in February, one of the first things she received from a Montrealer was a jacket.
“When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had a bit of an emergency and I was going to the emergency room. It was snowing and I didn’t have anything — I only had just my clothes. The first person who saw me was a driver, and he gave me a warm jacket. I know how that encouraged me,” she said.
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