When Tarek arrived in Canada, he felt ecstatic about the fresh new start and his potential to achieve. This is his story! 

We’ve carried out minor editing for conciseness and clarity*

“Moving to Canada was a dream come true for me. I landed in Canada on October 27, 2020 and felt re-born on that date (laughs). I spent one night in Toronto, then came to Sault Ste. Marie. I didn’t rely on organizations or settlement agencies much due to co-void restrictions. I managed mostly by myself.  

The biggest challenge I faced in Canada was the weather. The difference of climate in Syria and Dubai versus Canada is a lot. Also, I speak English pretty well, but I feel like there is still a barrier. To solve this, I enrolled in English courses and used YouTube [and] other resources. My roommate is Canadian, and he helps me a lot too. We have an “English only” rule at home. I have made many friends.  

Due to the pandemic, I had to be alone for a long time and with it being winter too, I suffered from depression. It was a bad situation for a month. Most newcomers come with [or have] their families. I’m working now so I have something to do. It’s also summer now; so, I can go out, bike and swim. We have many lakes here in Sault Ste. Marie. I advise everyone to visit, it’s a nice city!  

Regarding my degree, it was hard for me because I [previously] studied Arabic Literature- meaning I don’t have many options. In high school, I discovered I love linguistics, especially the English language. I graduated in 2017 then moved to Dubai in 2018. Even in Dubai, I faced many difficulties obtaining a work permit due to my Syrian nationality. I worked [in Dubai] as an Arabic teacher for native and non-native students for a few years before moving to Canada.  

I had my degree with me, but I needed a sealed transcript which I could not access in my country. I mentioned this problem to a friend, who advised me to evaluate my degree because institutions and colleges ask for this evaluation. I contacted Jumpstart Refugee Talent for the WES Gateway program and they did everything for me. I was reimbursed the fee for the evaluation.  

Now, I’m working with newcomers in a summer job, which is my biggest achievement so far in Canada. I feel like I have many options! I can start a new career if I don’t like my current career path. Everything is easy for me. Write “easy” down a hundred times (laughs). It has been a positive experience for me so far. Like everyone- I hope to be successful, independent, and have a good job. Maybe I could pursue my studies. I am motivated by all the nice people I have met since I arrived in Canada. 

 I feel so sorry for the people still suffering in refugee camps. It is not their fault which country they were born in. I advise refugees and newcomers to leave everything behind and start new. Try and leave behind the problems, wars, and difficulties as if you are a newborn baby (laughs). I’m grateful for the Canadian government because I got a chance for a fresh start and a new home. Do you know what a home is? A place where I can feel safe.” 

For more information about Jumpstart’s WES Gateway Program, visit jumpstartrefugee.ca/programs/wes/