Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Brockville at the Brockville General Hospital. I was raised in a neighbourhood close to Westminster school and then my family moved down to King Street. I live in a very Syrian and multicultural household that is rich in culture. My parents love to share their culture and help others better understand their Syrian roots by sharing their food and language.
This summer you are selling Syrian baked goods and food at the Brockville Farmers Market through the Summer Company program delivered locally by the Leeds Grenville Small Enterprise Centre. Tell us, why did you decide to participate in the program and start your own business?
It was kind of shock factor, I realized going into grade 11 and I still didn’t know much about business, or much about my parents culture and their food, because my mom mostly made the food when I was growing up. I wanted to pass on my culture to other people I know and I also wanted to experience Summer Company. It’s a really good program for an individual to grow, meet new people and learn about business.
Do you have any personal or cultural traditions that you love to celebrate?
We have a celebration called Eid al-Fitr. I call it the “big Eid”, because we have two Eids, the "big" and the "small" Eid. The “big Eid” is right after the month of Ramadan, we all get dressed up, we get presents, we have a big party, and it’s a huge celebration. If I have school that day I get to miss school and I get to hang out with friends from the Muslim community. My mom and I make desserts, Syrian cookies and baklava. It’s a great day and you feel so embodied in your culture that it makes you feel at home, but you are at home – if that makes sense.
Why is it important for you to celebrate Eid?
I feel like in my day to day life I get so caught up in community events, going to school, homework, sports, extracurriculars, my part time job. Celebrating Eid helps me remember where my parents came from, who I am, and it also helps me remember how lucky I am to live in an amazing place like Canada. Canada is a blessing and everyday I’m thankful for living here, because my life could have turned out very differently if I had not lived here.
What advice would you give to a newcomer moving to Brockville/Canada?
It will be a learning experience, but you will have an amazing support system to help you and answer your questions. Be ready to work hard but also enjoy the culture and the amazing kindness and respect that Canadians show to newcomers and to visitors.
What do you love about Brockville?
Everything! The waterfront in particular is spectacular and beautiful. I also love all of the small businesses downtown. Now having participated in the Summer Company program, I can truly appreciate how hard they have to work to keep their businesses open and to make them as amazing as they are.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I like to read or bring my younger sister to Hardy Park, she is practicing to ride her bike right now. Hardy Park is great because there is so much to do, the volleyball nets, the gazebo, the play structure, and all by the water, so if my sister wants to go swimming we can do that too!