From Tehran to Haliburton Village
Saeed "Sam" Jadidi's life path took him from oppressive regime to lakes of the Highlands
By Jenn Watt
In the last years of his life, Saeed “Sam” Jadidi seemed to have found a home in the Highlands.
Amongst the lakes and the lush green hills with his beloved shih-tzu Moness by his side, Saeed found a peaceful place and a way of life that suited him well.
An Iranian who came of age during the Islamic revolution, his path to Haliburton was different than most. Motivated by concerns for personal safety, many in the Jadidi family left their homeland searching for security in the 1980s.
“It’s dangerous for Sam, my brother, in Iran because he was six years in jail,” said his sister Nahid, who was in Haliburton last week with her brother Mahood sorting through Saeed’s things. Saeed passed away following a heart attack in October, just months after a visit he had with his sister in the Highlands.
“As he came back from jail, he didn’t want to stay in Iran anymore. He tried [to get] out of Iran and he was first in England and from there he tried to come to Canada.”
Saeed was a Marxist, the siblings explain, who were a targeted group by Khomeini following the revolution.
In 1981, he was working at a hospital in Tehran as a physiotherapist when the police took him away.
“Somebody from the police said to him we want to only ask a question,” says Nahid. He was gone for six years. There never was an explanation as to why he was jailed.
This was not out of the ordinary in Iran at the time. Left-wing activists and thinkers were regularly targeted by the state.
“It’s not just Saeed,” says Mahood. “My eldest brother was in jail. At the same time, her [Nahid’s] husband died in a street fight in Tehran. All this in just one year.”
It was clear that Iran was not safe for Saeed or other members of the family. Nahid moved to Germany. Masood to England. Saeed ended up in Toronto, then Peterborough and three years ago settled in Haliburton Village. He worked for Closing the Gap as a physiotherapist.
Four months ago, Nahid visited her brother for five weeks. She remembers him enthusing about the lakes and animals. The siblings believe that if he hadn’t died he would likely have stayed in the Highlands into retirement.
“He loved it,” Nahid says. “Every lake ... he’d show me and say, I love it, I love it, I love it.” Aside from the environment, he also loved his patients, his work and his dog.
“He was very funny,” Masood remembers: he would speak with his hands “like an Italian.”
Fred Phipps was one of Saeed’s friends and said he and his wife Judy regret not having spent more time with him. “It would have been a very pleasant learning experience,” he said in a letter submitted to the paper.
“Sam was a good person and a good Canadian. He enjoyed helping people and sharing his knowledge with them. ... People like Sam from all nations and faiths have made Canada a better place,” he wrote.
Jane Grieves teaches the same falls prevention class that Saeed conducted for Closing the Gap. She wrote a condolence letter to the family sharing her memories of her colleague.
“In my classes, I have people (and my father in law) who know Saeed through home care or falls prevention class [and] all were saddened at his passing and speak well of his kind and gentle nature,” she wrote. “My condolences and may you find comfort in knowing ‘Sam’ left his footprint here in Haliburton for certain.”
Later in life, Saeed the Marxist became Saeed the capitalist, his sister says.
He enjoyed the freedom of reading whatever he wanted, collecting a wide range of books that were banned in Iran.
Part of his decision to come to Canada had to do with this country’s “great democratic values,” Masood said, and Saeed cherished those throughout his life. He was 61.