“Nothing is impossible, be strong and work hard and do not hesitate to ask for help,” says Saba Al-Azzawi.
Arriving in Hamilton as a refugee in 2008, Saba had no family or friends here. With a bachelors degree in pharmacy from Iraq and experience working as a pharmacist, Saba had to begin rebuilding her life. Coming to Canada meant adjusting to a new country and a different culture, but Saba didn’t let these challenges stand as a roadblock to her success.
Saba immersed herself in the Canadian culture and opened her mind up to new possibilities. She enrolled in ESL classes at St. Charles education centre and took up a writing class at Mohawk College to improve her language skills. Proactively searching for city services and organizations online, Saba received assistance from the City of Hamilton and YMCA to settle in Hamilton.
She didn’t stop there.
Saba went outside, explored, and engaged with the community. “I tried to familiarize myself with the new culture and explored heritage sites such as Battlefield House Museum in Stoney Creek, Westfield Heritage Village, and so on,” says Saba. “Hamilton's ethnic diversity and multiculturalism surprised me. People are very welcoming and friendly; everything is accessible and available.”
Saba’s determination paid off. She is now a registered pharmacist in Canada, currently working for Shoppers Drug Mart, and a member of Ontario College of Pharmacists. As a member of the Iraqi-Canadian Association, Saba remains active in the community and seeks to bridge between her two cultures.
Saba’s Hamilton story contains valuable tips for others new to Hamilton. She has proven that strength and hard work can overcome anything – nothing is impossible.
Credits: An interview with Saba Al-Azzawi was first published by The Hamilton Spectator, as part of a series. The series was a joint initiative of the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council, Workforce Planning Hamilton and the City of Hamilton’s Global Hamilton Office. Read the original interview here.