Newcomers celebrate new start in St. John’s with welcome party

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With every jump Sultan Tokhi’s son makes on the bouncy castle, his smile continues to grow. It’s a smile that Tokhi hasn’t seen on his five-year-old’s face in a long time.

“I’ve never seen the fun or the smile on my kids back home,” Tokhi said. “When we came here, he was just smiling.”

The family arrived in Canada from Afghanistan five months ago, and on Friday, thanks to the generosity of a local entertainment company, the family were able to venture out at a welcome party hosted by the Association of New Canadians.

Bouncy castles, a dance floor, balloon animals, and a reptile display have kids laughing and screaming for hours in a room at the PowerPlex in St. John’s.

About 100 kids were released Friday afternoon after Jelly Bean Entertainment hosted a welcome party. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

All newcomers to the county who arrived last year were invited to the event, including Tokhi, his three brothers and their children.

Tokhi and his brother spent years translating for the Canadian military in Afghanistan, when the Taliban took over, knowing the family had to leave.

Among his family which includes his wife, two children, and his brother’s family, 13 of them started a new life in St. John.

warm welcome

Fresh Start has called for a party, according to the owner of Jelly Bean Entertainment, a children’s entertainment company.

Troy Stocklis reached out to the ANC to offer his services for free when he heard that the province was welcoming Afghan refugees.

The kids were able to raise a number of reptiles during the event on Friday afternoon. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

“I wanted to give them a really good start to their Canadian life and do something really fun…just a little change of pace from what they’ve been through,” Stuckless said.

“I wanted to make sure they were welcomed when they got here.”

So far, Tokhi said he has felt welcome in Newfoundland and Labrador and is grateful for his new life, although he still thinks of the family members left behind.

The federal government has brought 157 Afghan refugees to Newfoundland and Labrador so far.

Tokhi, a pharmacist, said he hopes to go back to school in his new home — but more than anything, he’s so happy his kids are safe.

“We are thinking of this new generation…I am very happy for the children.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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