Hearing Nanor’s soft-spoken voice, calm demeanor and positive outlook on life, you wouldn’t know that she and her family have been through much hardship than most of us will know in our lives.
Hailing from Aleppo, Syria, Nanor and her family fled their hometown last April from the ongoing civil war. But even while staying in Lebanon and planning their next move, they knew that Canada would be a place where they would be safe; with opportunity to change their lives for the better.
“Before we came to Canada, we searched quite a bit on the internet to learn everything we could about the lifestyle, jobs, housing…so we had an idea about what it might be like.”
Once Nanor, her husband and two children (4 and 16 months) arrived in Canada in November 2015, they were taken in by their cousin, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who has resided in Toronto for the last 21 years. Knowing that they were eager to find work and start their lives on a different path, he referred them to the YMCA’s Newcomer Information Centre. Nanor, an English teacher by profession in Syria, had passed her language assessment with flying colours, but not without feeling a little nervous about the process.
“I was a little bit nervous, but the person who tested me—her name was Maria—was so kind and friendly with me. It felt more like a conversation between friends rather than a test.”
Nanor has also been to several job workshops and consistently meets with job counselors at the adjoining Employment Centre; though she is looking for something that will help her contribute to the household right away, she hopes to return to teaching one day. For now, though, her priority is taking care of her two children and finding daycare for them to start their journey as new Canadians.
“I want a bright future for my children most of all, and the same for myself and my husband…though I still have relatives in Syria and I miss them, I don’t really want to look back….I want to look forward.”