When it was announced that Canada was accepting 25,000 Syrian refugees a few months ago, there was, in a true helpful and Canadian way, an outpouring of support.
Of course we're more than happy to help human beings escape the horrors of war and offer to help give them the chance at a better life.
There have been discounts in tuition offered, postcard-worthy images of them playing ice hockey, enjoying Tim Hortons and other wonderful Canadian-isms.
At the core, we want them to succeed. We want them to be happy and self sufficient. We, as proud Canadians, want them to feel like part of our community, and to have every opportunity for success and prosperity.
I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like, having to escape to a different country and start anew in a completely different environment.
But while the top layer of coming to Canada and experiencing many things we take for granted is part of an early introduction, there has to be a way to move onto phase two, which is helping them live, work, and learn, so that they can plant roots here and branch out on their own.
In a recent Huffington Post article, Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih said that he is committed to trying to have between three and five refugee employees at each of his 20 Ontario locations (including 3 in Mississauga: Erin Mills, Dixie & Eglinton, and Heartland) by New Year's Eve. Optimistic math puts that at 100 jobs and conservative math sees a figure of 60, which is still a large number and a large project for any company.
It's not as easy as "sure, come on in for 40 hours a week."
There's training that has to be done, shuffling of staff, schedules, adjusting internal financials and other facets to balance. And while I'm fairly certain all of us would love to hire at least one Syrian refugee at whatever company we work at, doing so is like the latter part of a game of Jenga. Yes, there's a good chance it can be done, but there has to be tremendous care taken to do it the right way. In addition to providing jobs and training to refugees at his own stores, the CBC reports that he is partnering with Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge (RULSC) to hire an employment counselor who will assist in matching Syrians with other employers as well.
Fakih acknowledges that it's easier said than done but is fully on board to make this happen.
In the aforementioned article, he says "That’s what people did for me when I arrived to Canada...I feel like I owe Canada a lot. And you’re never big enough in business to forget about the community."
We at Modern Mississauga applaud Paramount Fine Foods' initiative - it's one thing to cut a cheque or donate a bit of money to get them on their feet, but it's a great leap forward to enable them to run on their own.