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Snow Angels dive in to help Bradford residents dig out

For Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association member, it's about giving back to the community

From the moment he arrived in Canada from Pakistan in April 2019, Kashif Meer watched eagerly for snow.

When September arrived with its chilly wind, he knew it would be here soon.

He chatted with his new neighbours and colleagues about snow tires and shovels, safe driving on icy roads and the best toasty-warm jackets — and he scanned the sky in anticipation.

And then, with that first snowfall, he was mesmerized.

“I was working in Vaughan and driving to my office and I noticed it happening — all the trees filled with white. It was so amazing to see,” he recalls. “I got there and couldn’t enter the office. I just stood for five minutes and observed. How beautiful it was.”

Four years later, he still loves the white stuff when it’s fresh and clean — and even when it requires shovelling, because this is one part of Canada that Meer has fully embraced.

Now he is spreading that love and enthusiasm across town as president of the Simcoe Region Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.

The organization has a team of 250 volunteers at the ready to shovel driveways for anyone in the Bradford community who needs help, whether they are elderly or pregnant or simply having trouble getting out.

Last year, there were almost 20 requests for their free assistance, he says, and a cadre of volunteers appeared within hours to clear the way.

The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury also encourages Snow Angels with advice for reaching out to find those who need assistance. The town also offers recognition packages to thank those who come to their aid.

Clearing snow helps people in the neighbourhood go about their daily activities safely and without fear, supports their ability to live independently, and is a great way to get to know neighbours, according the town’s Snow Angels webpage.

“I love shovelling, just for the fact that I am doing it with other people, helping other people, and I’m getting some exercise — something we can’t do a lot in winter,” Meer says. “When I get a request from a person who needs help, I’m extra energetic. I cannot wait. I have to go. It’s an urgent thing. Like police and calling 911, we have to get to work immediately.”

Meer remembers a snowstorm last year when the phone rang at 9 a.m. with the first request for help.

“I immediately cleared my driveway so I could get out. Then I gathered all the volunteers and, you wouldn’t believe it, from 9 a.m. till 6:30 p.m., continuously, we were doing snow shovelling … I didn’t eat anything, just non-stop,” he recalls. “I slept well that night.”

And the reward at the end of all that work? Meer and the other volunteers receive grateful smiles, warm thank-yous, and even cookies.

“I remember one of the elderly ladies. She said, ‘I cannot give you any money?’ I said, ‘No. We’re not here for money.’ She said, ‘OK, but I still have to give you something,’ and she baked some cookies in her oven for us.”

Snow shovelling is one of several charitable initiatives run by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.

“The purpose of the department is to serve humanity. We are also doing food drives, blood donation drives, we organize runs to fundraise for local initiatives, lawn cutting … it is to keep our Muslim youth engaged in positive causes that could serve Canadians,” Meer says.

“This is an integral part of our religion — to serve humanity, irrespective of what religion or culture or faith. Our motto is love for all, hatred for none.”

Many of the association members are immigrants who struggled in their homeland, often discriminated against in Pakistan because of their faith, and came here to seek refuge and, like Meer, it’s their first experience with snow.

“We tell them this is something we do here in Canada. We volunteer in our local community to give back and engage,” he says.

Canada has welcomed them, he says, and, in turn, the volunteers are embracing all the good they see in their new hometown — even the occasional blizzard because, as Meer agrees, there is nothing that says Canada more than snow.

Want to help your neighbour? Find guidance from the town at

Need help clearing your snow? Contact Meer at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association at 437-229-1724, 647-588-5274 or [email protected].