Al-Deyab Family’s Journey to Success

The Al-Deyab family came to Canada three years ago looking for a fresh start. Like many newcomers, Bursha Al-Deyab, Amer Al-Deyab and their seven children escaped war in Syria and fled to Turkey, shortly before settling in Saint John.

Bursha and Amer soon began their LINC (Language Instructions for Newcomers to Canada) journeys, learning English at YMCA Newcomer Connections. Their dedication showed time and time again, as the couple never missed a class, even through the holy month of Ramadan.

Taking every opportunity thrown their way, they committed to learning English to be able to speak to their neighbors, their children’s schools, hospitals, and family doctors. The ultimate goal was to gain citizenship, as language skills are a requirement.

While Amer enjoys learning the language, he claims his favorite part is getting the chance to visit sites in Saint John. The family shares a love for the city describing it as friendly, hospitable, and a supportive environment.

“It’s a quiet city,” said their son Hmada.

Ubada, the second youngest, often emphasized how his school teachers were looking to get invested in their learning experience. They often asked questions about their culture and encouraged them to bring traditional foods from Syria and Turkey.

Hmada recently graduated through a carpentry pathway hosted by Working NB. After completion, he began a four-month co-op with a construction company. Due to COVID-19, scheduling issues arose, and delays resulted in an effort to create a safer space for students. The pathway has since been extended through online learning.

Hmada was happy to be able to work with power tools and with Birch Construction. His dream is to one day be a licensed carpenter.

While COVID-19 impacted Hmada’s work, Bashar, the third oldest, fell victim too. Bashar, a baker by trade, started working at Italian by Night shortly before the first lockdown in March of 2020. After a three-day period, the restaurant was forced to close. Luckily, this didn’t last long and Bashar was able to begin his career by washing dishes.

Michelle Hooton, executive chef at Italian by Night, was unaware that Bashar had multiple years of experience in the restaurant industry. At the age of 12, he started baking in Turkey. He would bake from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. then make his way to school.

“When I realized he had that kind of work ethic and passion for it, I was really willing to see what he could do,” said Hooton.

Putting his skills to work, she decided to set a time with her head baker to see how Bashar makes Turkish Bread.

“It was one of my favorite memories,” he said. “She put it up on Facebook and there were more than 700 comments from the Canadian people hoping to try it”.

Shortly after, Bashar was upgraded to the prepping station where he now garnishes desserts.

“He has a lovely disposition and gets along with [the] staff really well. All the staff really love him,” said Hooton.

It is no secret that Bashar jumps at any opportunity to take on more leadership. As such, taking part in the On-Ramp program, the youth advisors found how he carried himself professionally and saw an opportunity to have him be an asset. She soon onboarded him to be a support volunteer for the program.

Ubada also joined the Italian by Night team this year at the dishwashing station. Having had restaurant experience of his own in Turkey, he often helps prepare pasta sauce.  Ubada has also joined Skillslaunch program this year. He is enjoying his course and getting along with the other participants. His ultimate goal is to become a licensed electrician.

Bashar is currently working in order to save money to go to culinary school. He hopes to study and build a foundation to one day open his own restaurant.

“My big plan is that I’m going to open a restaurant…the name is going to be the 4 Brothers,” said Bashar.

This will put their skills forward as they combine their Syrian and Turkish background to bring forward delicious foods like Shawarma, kebabs, and kefta.

As for the rest of the family, Amer hopes to one day become a taxi driver, as he once managed his own company in Syria. With these earnings, he will purchase land to build family units for his wife and children.

Bursha is hoping her children remain successful and continue to get involved in their community.