Weyburn woman and Iranian immigrant Shaghayegh (Shagha) Nourizadeh moved to Weyburn in December 2018; she shares how moving to Canada was her childhood dream. 

Shagha attempted to take her university degree in Canada, however, due to her father taking ill, she had to pass on the opportunity. However, 20 years later a new door opened to achieve her long-awaited dream. 

“I always thought I would love that place (Canada)how they are peaceful and how they have good welcoming to everybody, they have freedom, I always thought I need freedom, I need to grow, I need to fly, it was my dream, I am thankful to God for the dream to happen,” said Shagha. 

In September 2022, Iranian protests broke out after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested for wearing her hijab incorrectly. Three days after her arrest Amini died in police custody. The protests waged on for several months only recently ending after reports of the Islamic Republic quelling protests through public executions. 

“In our country, we have lots and lots of limitations, even simple things we can’t have it, and it’s hard for lots of us. Persian culture is a really strong culture, we don’t believe that somebody should push us to wear hijab, we can’t dance, we can’t have music carnival in street, we can’t have happiness, can’t go to the stadium to watch soccer as man and woman together,” explained Shagha. 

In 1979, the Iranian Revolution ended, with the Islamic Republic overthrowing the monarchy, Shah (King) Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, went into exile and was granted asylum in Egypt where he lived for the remainder of his life.  

 “After this government, they cut lots of good things we had, it was always a challenge, I was always free in my family about ideas, about study, I like dance, I love music I want to be happy, but it wasn't for us in this government, we always have stress in our life, scared maybe they would come (Iranian Authorities) to send us to jail for not wearing hijab.” Shagha continued, “It was really dangerous for us, to dance in the street, to have happiness, people go to jail, and nobody knows where they are.” 

When Shagha heard the news about the death of Mahsa Amini, she shared how it deeply saddened her; sad for Amini, but it also brought back tragic memories from university. 

While Shagha was studying, taking her physical education degree, a close friend of hers, Samina, went missing. 

“She was really smart, and believed in freedom, and had really good ideas, but in my country, that is dangerous, because you can’t talk with everybody so easy,” explained Shagha. “She was gone because of her ideas; she was active in a group that did not believe in government.” 

Shagha went on to complete her education degree and was working as a teacher in Iran, her husband Farrokh was working as an electrical engineer. When the moment presented itself to move to Canada, life took them on a swift turn.

"We just locked the door, we still have everything in my home, we just came."

With no time to sell their house or belongings, they locked their house, left their vehicles, and took their five-year-old daughter, Atrin with them. 

Now in Canada, Shagha works as an Educational Assistant, she can work as a Substitute Teacher, but further English classes are required before she can work as a full-time teacher.  

Shagha shared she felt like she had a special connection to Canada.

“Shaghayegh in Persian meaning is red poppy, I understood that when we came here. I tell my friends my name meaning is red poppy. I am happy for that because it’s Remembrance Day and I really love that.”