NEWCOMER EXPERIENCES OF LIFE IN VICTORIA
The CPN newsletter features stories about newcomers who come to call Greater Victoria home. In this segment, we ask a newcomer to share a bit about their personal lives and the challenges and successes of coming to a new community.
Where were you born and raised?
My parents moved from Syria to Saudi Arabia many years ago, where I was born. I lived the first few years of my life in Saudi Arabia until I immigrated to Canada in 2000.
What were the circumstances that brought you and your family to Canada?
The initial reason for moving to Canada was to continue my education. Our family first landed in Toronto, but we continued moving west until we reached Vancouver. I eventually moved to Victoria to pursue my Masters in Engineering Entrepreneurship at the University of Victoria. Later on, some of my family members followed me from Vancouver to Victoria.
Tell us a bit about your family.
I am the eldest of six siblings. My wife, Lubaba, and I have been married for 3 years. We have been blessed with the arrival of my son Nuradeen (Nur), who is now one year old . We are passionate about our family and driven to contribute and help in our community wherever we can. Some of the work we have been involved with includes that of supporting new Syrian refugees to resettle in Victoria, especially since they had to flee the unrest in Syria.
As someone from the Middle East, what do you wish people understood better about your cultural heritage?
I wish people understood that I have been studying the Islamic tradition and Islamic history in depth for the past few years. Although I grew up as a Muslim, I find it fascinating how deep the tradition is and how vast its impacts are. I find navigating its intricacies very fulfilling. I also wish that people knew they should not put lettuce in their shawarma (a form of gyros or donair). And one should add a lot of strong, authentic garlic!
What is your current profession?
I am a software consultant/developer. In a nutshell, I help design and build financial revenue systems for the Ministry of Finance. I appreciate a good challenge and I get a sense of satisfaction from solving it.
What are three things you appreciate about life in Victoria and the community?
Three things I really appreciate about life in Victoria are the sense of appreciation for diversity here, not only an “acceptance” of it, but something deeper in terms of welcoming it. Everything is nearby and there is an ease of navigation and closeness of destinations- to get from one end of the lower island to the other. The lifestyle here is healthy and people enjoy living in a clean and healthy environment.
What have been some of the challenges about adapting to life in Victoria?
I found it challenging when I first moved here to learn to slow down and enjoy the moment. Living in Vancouver, and being the dynamic and energetic person that I am, my acclimatization to Victoria took a bit of time. Now, I cannot imagine living anywhere else!
What do you miss about the Middle East that you do not have here in Victoria?
There are a few things I do miss. I miss good authentic Mediterranean cuisine. I miss the sound of the beautiful Athan, the Muslim call to prayer, being chanted by experienced chanters of the Muslim faith. And I miss listening to the wide spectrum of Arabic accents.
What are three favorite activities you and your family enjoy doing here in Victoria?
There are many places and activities I enjoy doing in Victoria. I like to visit the breakwater on Dallas Road. I truly enjoy good cold locally made fulfilling ice-cream! I enjoy exploring the western side of Vancouver Island.
What are three meaningful accomplishments you have experienced in your career?
Three successes for me include: Combining the technical and soft skills in my career. Contributing and broadening the positive impact and contribution I can make in the community. And finally, leading and mentoring teams in solving very complex, sensitive, and expensive challenges in my workplace.
Do you think Victoria is a welcoming and inclusive community?
My experience in Victoria has been great overall. People are generally driven by community values and positive attitudes and the spirit of collaboration. There is a lot of passion and love for the betterment of people’s lives. There are also always many good causes to support and embrace. Victoria has the feel of a small town but the forward thinking feel of a big city.