A new life for a young family

Abdulaziz with his daughter. Abdulaziz will be working as a CNC Machine Operator with Allstone Quarry Products in Schomberg, Ontario. Photo by Will O’Hare.

For Abdulaziz, an upcoming move to Ontario is about more than a career-related relocation: it’s about creating a fresh start and building a future for his young children.

Originally from Syria, Abdulaziz was once an economics student in Aleppo before the Syrian civil war turned the country upside down, forcing Abdulaziz to seek refugee status in Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

Unable to resume his studies in Iraqi universities due to discrimination against migrants and upheaval due to the encroachment of Daesh in Northern Iraq, Abdulaziz says he was searching for a way to support his wife Ruqaya, and their young family, and to build a sense of normalcy.

Looking to train as a skilled tradesperson, he found he had a knack for programming and carving as a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machinist and Fabricator. The role, which involves automating the work of machine tools through the use of computer software, is an in-demand skill in industries that manufacture metals, stone, and plastic. At a factory in Erbil, Abdulaziz rose up the ranks to manage a team of seven, and even take on a sales capacity.

But even as he progressed in his career, Abdulaziz was not certain Iraq was where he and Ruqaya wanted to raise their son and daughter. So he sought out opportunities for migration for skilled workers, and ultimately connected with TalentLift through partner organization Talent Beyond Boundaries.

His proficiency with CNC machine work, and his experience running a factory is what made Abdulaziz stand out to a number of employers in the TalentLift network – and particularly Allstone Quarry Products. Based out of Schomberg, Ontario, Allstone produces and sells stone products like tile and brick for builders and landscapers. Shortages of skilled labour, particularly in the trades, has long been a stumbling point for industrial employers in Canada. Allstone in particular was in need of a skilled stone carver, and had likewise connected with TalentLift to seek out qualified CNC Machinists. After interviewing with the Allstone team, Abdulaziz received a job offer, and the chance at a new life in Canada for himself and his family.

For Abdulaziz, the question of uprooting his life once again was not easy. He had intentionally sought out opportunities to move his young family to a more peaceful country, but when the offer came in, it was still an emotionally fraught decision for him and Ruqaya to make. As a father, Abdulaziz knew that life in Iraq for people living under refugee circumstances comes with harsh difficulties, including political instability and discrimination against people with refugee status.

“But moving to a different country, it’s a very difficult thing,” Abdulaziz said, reflecting on how much his life has changed since moving from Aleppo ten years ago. “But I can do difficult things.”

Ultimately, it was Abdulaziz’s young family who inspired him to take the leap and sign on for the move to Schomberg, Ontario to work for Allstone. With a three-year old daughter and five-year old son, Abdulaziz says he and Ruqaya were highly motivated to have their kids experience quality public education. Once he’s settled in, Abdulaziz says he too might explore ways to pick up where he left off in his economics education, a passion he says hasn’t left him since his student years.

He’s also particularly excited that his kids will get to know his brother and his cousin in Ottawa, who like so many in the Syrian diaspora, have been separated for years amidst the war.

Abdulaziz says his relatives offered the greatest encouragement for him to take the job offer, after they spoke so highly about life in Canada for young families. “My children are the most important thing in my life right now, and I wanted them to live in a country that really cares about their futures.”

“Refugees like me are so grateful to the companies that give them a chance, and they will also give their best to Canada and to these companies.”

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