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Success Stories

Hua Chen

Today, Hua Chen lives with his wife and daughter in a quiet Peterborough neighbourhood they now consider home.

Originally from Beijing, China, Hua first came to Canada in 2002 on a study permit as an International Student. He attended the University of Windsor where he graduated with a major in computer science in 2005. Soon after, Hua’s wife was accepted to a Ph.D. program at Trent University. Consequently, Hua was accepted into Trent’s Applications of Modeling (AMINSS) program. So in 2005, the Chen family moved to Peterborough. 

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Rene and Maria Ferrer

The Ferrer familyEvery February of every year, Rene and Maria Ferrer celebrate with a special dinner to mark a milestone in their lives: the day they arrived in Peterborough in February 1989 and made it their new home. Twenty-two years have gone past, but the significance of that moment has not been forgotten.

Maria, a copywriter, and Rene, an accountant, had good jobs in the Philippines, but Canada beckoned. For them, Canada held the promise of better educational opportunities for their son, who was three when they made the decision to immigrate.

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Shah Mohammed Yousuf

Shah Mohammed YousufAlthough I had a good idea of what to expect when I moved to Toronto, Canada from Bangladesh in December of 2005, I’m still trying to get used to the cold winters! Moving to a new country can be intimidating, but I’m happy I was lucky enough to land in such a welcoming community. I was surprised by the multiculturalism of Toronto. I felt right at home from the start, and have never felt like a stranger or outsider in this town. I also didn’t expect that Toronto would have so many different agencies that help newcomers and immigrants. Overall, Toronto is a great place to live. It is mostly family-oriented and you can find good schools and good quality neighbourhoods. Transportation is also good around the city. 

After landing in Toronto I realized it was not easy finding employment in my area of work. My Computer Science degree needed to be evaluated and this was an expensive and slow process. I was constantly asked for “Canadian experience” and not being bilingual in French put me at a disadvantage for employment in Toronto.

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John and Hellen Kostsovos

John and Hellen KostsovosSince opening its doors in 1971, Jim’s Pizzeria has been a favourite landmark in Peterborough. Known for its authentic Italian menu, excellent customer service, and affordable prices, Jim’s Pizzeria is a success story we can all learn from.

Along with their brothers and sisters, owners John and Hellen Kostsovos left Greece and landed in Montreal in 1959. After years of getting accustomed to the work ethic and way of life in Canada, the brothers decided to invest in the family restaurant business. Without disagreement over the name, they decided to call it "Jim’s"- after the brother with the shortest and easiest name to pronounce.

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Dean Pappas

Pappas - 3 generationsWith only 10 dollars in his pocket, Bill Pappas, Dean's father, arrived in Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia more than 50 years ago. He had fought the Nazis, escaped from Communist re-education camps, and was determined to pursue his dreams. His immediate priority was to make enough money to pay for his wife Tula’s passage from Greece. His goal was to build a home and raise his family in Canada.

Eventually, Bill made his way to Peterborough and purchased the pool hall on George Street from his cousin. He and his wife started a family here, and today, the Pappas name is a familiar one in the community. "That is what immigrants do. They help build cities and countries. They enrich communities. They come to this country to build a better life, and that is what Canada does well. It is a country of new Canadians and that is the story of Canada." reflects Bill’s son, Dean.

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Ali Imran and Mostafa Rahman

Ali Imran and Mostafa RahmanIf you know where the New Canadians Centre is, then you are a two-minute walk away from Ali and Mostafa’s Village of Thai. This popular restaurant is the latest addition to a chain of restaurants owned and operated by Ali and Mostafa’s family.

The family moved to Canada in the late ‘90s from Bangladesh. They first moved to Toronto, where they had the support of other family members. When the opportunity to purchase a restaurant in Peterborough presented itself, the Rahman brothers did not hesitate.

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Farah Zafarzadeh

Farah ZafarzadehI grew up in a big family in Afghanistan. When the Soviets invaded, we sought refuge in Iran, leaving behind relatives and friends. When the war in Afghanistan continued and the Taliban took over, we decided to head to Canada as refugees. We landed in Toronto on September 15, 1995. That was a great day.

We ended up in a women’s shelter as we had nowhere to go. While it was certainly nice to have a roof over our heads, the atmosphere there was bad, and it scared me. My sons hated being in the shelter and I had to remind them it was not meant to be forever.

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Karma Phuntshok

Karma Phuntshok, a former Tibetan monk, emigrated with his wife from New York to Toronto in 1999. His wife was pregnant with their son at the time. To him, living in a Canadian city meant having access to good health care and other essential services. After a short stay in Toronto, Karma decided that Toronto, like New York, was far too large a city to raise a child in and began his search, yet again, for a new home. 

At the suggestion of his friends, Karma ended up in Peterborough. Initially, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to stay; he eventually did because his wife was expecting. Having arrived with only suitcases, Karma immediately began looking for work. He was hired by Mr. Croquette, a local meat packer.

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Fadhil Al-Sarraj

Fadhil Al-SarrajI was born in Baghdad, Iraq, to a family of business people. None of our relatives were university graduates. However, my father was different; he wanted to pursue higher education, working during the day and attending school at night. Often, he and I would study and write exams at the same time. He set a wonderful example for me.

He finished his business degree in the same year I started high school. I spent most of my time studying because I wanted to be a pharmacist. I became a licensed pharmacist at 20 years old. Later, I decided to pursue my doctorate in pharmacy in England.

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Binu Jain

Binu JainThe Jain family emigrated from India to Canada in 2000. Binu and her husband, Pankaj, started working in their respective fields in hi-tech industries soon after they arrived in Canada. Binu started with Research in Motion (RIM) in Waterloo.

Initially the Jain family settled in Waterloo, adapting their professional qualifications to Canadian standards and expanding their family to add two new members. Binu also moved up professionally, managing Technical Documentation & Training at Ansys, while helping several new immigrants settle into the community.

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