George Brown College's PEN Canada Writer-in-Residence, Shams Erfan, was recently featured on CBC Radio One's The Current in a documentary about how he and two others joined forces to help refugees.
Erfan shared his story about his own experience as a refugee who fled his native Afghanistan, spent several years in detention in an Indonesian refugee camp, and arrival in Toronto as part of a documentary called Say Yes that aired last month.
"I could not believe my eyes when I saw Toronto, that I am here, and a Canadian immigration officer stamped my permanent residency paper and told me, welcome to Canada," Erfan recalls in Say Yes. "I felt human. I felt I was reborn. And eight years of detention, eight years of loneliness, eight years of hopelessness, and eight years of physical and mental torment comes to an end."
Erfan joined forces with a refugee advocate in Toronto and a retired Australian academic to help refugees come to Canada to start new lives.
In August 2022, Erfan was appointed the PEN Canada Writer-in-Residence at George Brown. PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization that celebrates literature, fights censorship, defends persecuted writers, and helps exiled writers make new lives in Canada. George Brown College has partnered with PEN Canada since 2004.
In September, Erfan was among 38 writers longlisted for the CBC Nonfiction Prize for his work Escape from Kabul.