- Beliefs & Religions
(This article was first published in 2018)
One Afghan Shiite refugee from Toronto plus one Moroccan Sunni immigrant from Montreal equals the recently married couple of Mehdi and Laila. They speak about how they met on Facebook, Muslim marriage, and their relationship. Laila introduces us to her father in Toronto, a former dentist in Kabul who is now a taxi driver, and back in Montreal, we witness her effort to integrate into her new home in Quebec.
1 - The Facebook Couple
One Afghan Shiite from Toronto plus one Moroccan Sunni from Montreal equals the recently married couple of Mehdi and Laila. They talk about how they met on Facebook and got married shortly after.
2 - Taking Laila for a Ride
Laila travels to Toronto to see her family for the week-end. She introduces us to her father, who was a dentist in Afghanistan and who now drives a taxi in Toronto.
3 - Feeling Like an Immigrant?
Laila is learning French to find a job in Montreal. In this episode, we follow her in her French class.
Laila Sherdel was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. She was just four months old when her family was forced to flee the country during the Soviet invasion in 1985. They escaped into Pakistan by camel, donkey and on foot. Her parents held significant positions in Afghan society, and had to disguise themselves while in Pakistan to avoid being recognized.
This obligation to hide what they had worked so hard to achieve in order to protect themselves and the family was an emotional roller coaster for Laila’s parents. They spent approximately a year in Pakistan before being sponsored in 1986 by Laila’s uncle who was living in Quebec at the time. The family later moved to Toronto, where Laila grew up.
She returned to Quebec when she married El Mehdi Zerouali Ouariti. Laila studied Political Science at the University of Windsor and is now polishing her French skills to pursue a career in government, while working at a Montreal bank. She is passionate about books and literature and is thinking of writing a book about her journey and the story of what Afghanistan was and what it has become.
El Mehdi Zerouali Ouariti
El Mehdi Zerouali Ouariti was born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. In 2001, when he was 16, his parents decided that Canada would be their next home. He had a comfortable life in Morocco but his family had ambitions of a better future in Canada, choosing Quebec because of their French-speaking background. In Montreal, Mehdi met many inspiring people and he began to display his passion for art through social networks.
It was through his work in politically oriented graphic design and religious groups on Facebook that he connected with Laila Sherdel. They married in June 2010.
He studied Fine Arts with a Major in Design at Concordia University and continues to do graphic and interior design. Currently, Mehdi is working in the investment field while completing his Masters in Management at McGill University.