Montreal company offers Syrian refugees jobs, free language training

Levon Afeyan knows firsthand the challenges of being a refugee in Canada.

Forty years ago, he was forced to flee his home in Lebanon because of civil war.

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But Afeyan eventually landed on his feet. He owns the Montreal-based plywood company Seatply, which produces plywood chair backs sold across North America

And now, Afeyan is doing his part to help others like himself adapt to life in Canada.

Seatply is offering jobs to newly arrived Syrian refugees, as well as free language lessons.

So far, the factory has taken on a dozen newcomers, with plans to take on more.

"It is our turn to help and that just came natural to us," said Afeyan.

One of the company's new employees is Barouyr Gulvannessian who fled war-torn Aleppo, Syria, for Montreal more than a year ago as a refugee.

He said one the greatest challenges facing refuges is finding a way to pay the bills.

"The biggest problem is actually to find a job," said Gulvannessian.

Many of the newcomers also don't speak French or English, which is why the company provides the free language lessons.

"Within a few months we hope that their languages skills will be such that they'll be able to communicate well with the supervisors," said Afeyan.

Afeyan isn't only opening his arms to Syrian refugees; 90 per cent of his employees are from other countries.

Some came for safety, others for a new life, but they have all been given an opportunity at Seatply.

"It is paying it forward," said Afeyan. "We expect nothing in return obviously. We're offering them what we are able to offer them, which is jobs."

With a report from CTV’s Kevin Gallagher in Montreal


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