Nour Ramadan, a Refugee Claimant Housing Search Worker and Digital Skills Manager, recently spoke at the ‘Strength through Diversity’ event at Ismaili Centre in Burnaby.
The event was a celebration of newcomer success and Nour’s inspiring speech highlights the challenges and the achievements so many immigrants and refugees face before and after they arrive in Canada.
We hope you enjoy reading her inspiring story and thank you Nour for sharing:
Persevering through dangerous and uncertain times
“Today, I stand before you as a testament to the power of resilience and the triumph of the human spirit. My name is Nour Ramadan, and I hail from Syria.
In the year 2010, my life took an unexpected turn when the war struck my homeland. As a young civil engineering student, everything I had dreamed of was shattered. Safety became a distant memory, and the simple act of stepping outside meant risking never returning to our loved ones and the place we called home.
During this unstable time, fate brought me together with a gorgeous man named Wael. Despite the massive challenges we faced, including the destruction of our country and the lasting fear that enveloped our lives, we remained steadfast in our love and commitment.
However, as the situation worsened, Wael was no longer able to work and we couldn’t leave our home to go anywhere, we were left with no choice but to leave our homeland in search of a brighter future.
The start of Nour’s refugee journey
In 2012, we made the difficult decision to relocate to Jordan, hoping to find a new home for our family. We packed our bags, and bid farewell to our loved ones, hoping to come back to Syria one day.
However, as refugees, we encountered many obstacles that seemed insurmountable. We were denied the right to work, study, or pursue any good opportunities, making our lives more and more difficult.
In 2018, after six long years and with new member added to our family my greatest gift from God, Tala, a glimmer of hope appeared when my brother, who had been resident in Vancouver for the past nine years, informed me of a potential opportunity to join him in Canada.
He applied the necessary papers to sponsor us by private sponsorship, and we eagerly awaited our chance to start anew. However, our plans were once again thwarted by the arrival of the pandemic in 2019, which brought the world to a standstill and forced us to delay our plans.
Arriving in Canada, and a new set of challenges
Eventually, in 2021, after what felt like a century of waiting, we finally received the green light to fly! We were overjoyed and couldn’t contain our excitement. We packed our bags again, said our goodbyes with tears of both happiness and sadness. It was like we were starring in a dramatic movie, but with a happy ending.
Finally, we touched down in this haven of opportunities, where dreams were supposed to come true. But you know what they say, “Nothing worth having comes easy.”
Suddenly, figuring out how to get a SIN number, a health card, and even finding a family doctor became a real-life puzzle. It was like we were contestants on a game show, trying to navigate through a maze of paperwork and appointments to claim our prize.
Finding a job was the next hurdle. Every time my husband applied for a job, the HR folks would tell him, “Sorry, but you need to speak English.” It was like they were asking him to solve a mystery in a language he hadn’t quite mastered yet.
Even I, with all my qualifications, faced the infamous “Canadian experience” roadblock. It felt like a comedy sketch – a classic case of “You’re perfect for the job, but sorry, you need experience to get the experience!”
So, we had to get creative. My husband ended up being a painter, even though he had spent a decade as an electrical technician. It was like he was auditioning for a career shift, painting a masterpiece with each stroke of the brush.
As for me, I became a professional job applicant. I applied for 38 jobs and received 38 rejections!
A new approach leads to ISSofBC
Eventually, I decided to change my strategy, I sought help from ISSofBC. I participated in workshops, made new connections, and volunteered everywhere I could while applying for jobs that suited my skills. I had to fight for my dreams and make a difference in the community.
And then, one glorious day, the moment arrived. I received an email inviting me for an interview for a Digital Literacy coach at ISSofBC, it was the greatest day ever!
I met my future manager and her assistant, and they were so nice to me, and the interview went very well because I had learned more about the Canadian job market and culture.
Today, I am not just here to share my story of resilience and success. I have a greater purpose—one that I hold close to my heart. It is my mission to help newcomers like me navigate their settlement journey and make it as smooth as possible.
I understand the struggles that come with starting anew in a foreign land, especially for those who have limited English. That’s why I’ve committed myself to supporting newcomers to overcome the challenges they may face, from learning how to use technology, practicing English, or even acting as a translator during important appointments, like visits to the doctor. I strive to be there for them every step of the way.
I’ve learned how to allocate my time, efforts, and resources to support newcomers, because seeing them satisfied and happy brings me immeasurable joy. It is the most rewarding feeling after enduring the hardships and obstacles that once stood in my own path.
A message to other newcomers
To all the newcomers out there, I want you to know that you are not alone. Together, we can overcome language barriers, cultural differences, and any other hurdles that may come our way. I am here to lend a helping hand, to be your guide, and to share the knowledge and experiences that have shaped my own journey.
Let us embark on this settlement adventure together, empowering one another, and creating a supportive community that thrives on compassion, understanding, and unity. Because when we extend a helping hand to those who need it, we not only make their journey easier, but we also strengthen the very fabric of our society.
Thank you and let us continue spreading the light of hope and support to all newcomers who seek a brighter future. Together, we can make a difference.”
As you can see from Nour’s story, she and her family are a real inspiration to other immigrants and refugees who have struggled to make a start here in Canada. However, her story also shows what can be achieved through hard work and perseverance as well as building your community.
To learn how we can help you build your community and network, visit our Settlement and Employment services to learn about our free services.