Hakim Sketchnote.png



I don’t have any family in Canada with me. We had a nice life, until the war came. Soon after I left my home country, my parents were killed. I still don’t know how it happened, although I’ve heard that it was a car bomb or while people were robbing their house. I have no idea what happened to my uncle and cousins. They have been missing for six years. I have filed a report to try and find them.


The government enlisted me in the army, even though I was in university studying engineering and should have been exempt. They cut my ears off when I refused to comply. Then they threw me in prison for a few years, and eventually enlisted me in the army anyway.

My kidnappers

After the war started, it became common in my country to be kidnapped and held hostage until your family could pay a ransom (if they could). I was walking down the street, and the kidnappers hit me hard on the head so hard I blacked out for a time. Still sometimes, I have trouble remembering things, keeping appointments, and such. I think it is from this. My kidnappers held me and tortured me until my family paid. After that was when I ran away to Syria.


I like going on trips. I did get to go on a bus trip with some people, shortly after I first came to Canada. If I had more money, I would spend it on traveling places, but I have very little money. I do take the bus into Toronto or Mississauga sometimes. I like it there more than here.


I liked the time I spent living in Syria. Everyone was very welcoming. I moved into a neighbourhood where I knew no one, soon I knew everyone on the street. In Syria, people like to go outside and have parties and picnics in the evening, after it is dark. If I’m in the park after dark in Canada, people are very suspicious of me.

Canadian Police

I’ve had a lot of interactions with the police. I have been arrested for multiple by-law infractions, and even for feeding the geese in the park. I have my own culture, that makes it hard to fit in here. I’m struggling with my trauma and I’m suspicious of government and authority because these institutions have been so corrupt in my past experience. These interactions do not go well. I file complaints.


I like to ride my bicycle to get around. I am finding that there are lots of rules about how to ride a bike that we don’t have where I’m from. I don’t know what the rules are. I am often stopped on my bicycle and given tickets I don’t understand. I throw them on the ground because I do not think that I have committed any crimes.

Speech bubble

When I interact with the police, they usually refuse to get me an interpreter right away. I do speak a little bit of English, but people consistently overestimate my ability to understand them. It’s always after I get brought into the station that I get an interpreter. By that time, the incident has escalated and everyone (including me) is angry. It’s not a good way to resolve things.