‘He was not just my interpreter’: Veteran helped Afghan and his family resettle in Canada

Author of the article: Kellen Taniguchi Publishing date: Nov 09, 2021

For one retired veteran, helping Afghan refugees evacuate the country that’s now under Taliban control is an issue that hits close to home.

Stephen Peddle, 47, served in the Canadian military for 28 years, including two missions on the ground in Afghanistan — one in 2007 and another in 2012. He left the service in 2019.

Peddle got involved with the current Afghan refugee crisis to help his former interpreter, Sangeen Abdul Mateen, who served on the ground with him in 2007, get his family members to safety.

“He was not just my interpreter, not just my friend, but my cultural adviser while I was in Afghanistan who I credit with helping keep myself and my comrades alive,” said Peddle, who added the interpreter helped him integrate into Afghan culture and was able to pick up whether danger was nearby.

So far, Peddle has helped evacuate 12 of Mateen’s 13 family members who were stuck in Afghanistan. Mateen came to Canada in 2012 and became a master electrician. Peddle said Mateen now owns a successful commercial business in Oshawa, Ont., where he and his family now reside.

Peddle said one of Mateen’s brothers is still in hiding from the Taliban and they are working on getting him to Canada.Peddle said Mateen’s father was a senior officer in the Afghan National Army and if he would have been found by the Taliban, he likely would have been executed for helping Canada.In 2007, Peddle served in Kandahar where he worked with about 500 Afghan soldiers mentoring them on the “fine art of war.” Peddle said he wouldn’t have been able to do his job without Mateen translating his words to the soldiers.

“These are the Afghans that helped us,” said Peddle. “These are the ones that made it as safe as they could for us while we were there. So, I do feel a sense of obligation as well. We packed up and left and some of them are still stuck there under a very evil regime.”

Peddle is a fourth-generation soldier after his grandfather served in the First World War. He said serving has been a family legacy based on his beliefs — he believes in Canada, all the values that encapsulates what makes us Canadian and protecting those values at home, but also exporting those ideals abroad.

“It’s representing Canada on the world stage and that’s what it really means to me to be a soldier. It is to exemplify the best of what our society represents,” he said.

Peddle’s efforts have been noticed by the Order of St. George and he will be officially “knighted” in Burnaby, B.C., next Sunday.

Allan Plett, knight commander and prior of the Order of St. George Cascadia Priory, said he will be using his blessed sword to official knight Peddle as a field knight because he meets the criteria and beyond.

“It’s an honorary rank for anybody, veteran or civilian, that goes above and beyond the call of duty in the area of community service,” said Plett. “In this case, that community service was a military or veteran community service doing something that was just plain the right thing to do because he knew how to do it.”Peddle said being able to do something positive for the Afghans that have helped Canadians lifts him up and makes veterans feel a lot better about what has happened over there which is why the Order of St. George struck a chord with him.In partnership with True Patriot Love, the Order of St. George launched the “Afghan Interpreter Resettlement and Veterans Mental Health Campaign” last summer with the aim to raise money to help relocate Afghan interpreters and support the mental health of veterans which Plett says has taken a hit since the recent “total abandonment of Afghanistan.”

The campaign was completed on December 31st, 2021, and raised $54,046 to be disbursed to the True Patriot Love Foundation Afghan Resettlement Fund, which will “be distributed across Canada to local organizations working directly with Afghan refugees and their families as they adapt to life in Canada, providing support for legal costs, housing, language training, mental health supports, employment and education training and more.”

Below are some of the media links to the story. The CBC one is the best as it has two great photos of Stephen. 

Some of the Canadian Press media pick-up: 










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