For Aeman Alkadour, nothing is sweeter than being able to do what he loves.
Just a few short years since arriving in Canada, the Syrian refugee and pastry chef has launched a pop-up stall in Billings Bridge Shopping Centre, selling an assortment of Syrian sweets, cookies and pastries. Alkadour worked in a family-owned pastry store in Syria, but business went very bad after the civil war broke out.
Alkadour's family was among the first wave of Syrian refugees who arrived in the country in early 2016. He worked at a restaurant in Ottawa at first, but found he was not getting enough hours and decided to start his own pastry business -- Alkadour Sweets. While many refugees and migrants have not always been able to work in their chosen profession in their new home, Alkadour has been lucky enough to do what he did back in Syria.
"Aeman wants to be a pastry chef. That's his real love," said Bernard Lamontagne, an Ottawa resident, who along with his wife, Lise, has been helping the Syrian family settle in Canada.
Alkadour and his family fled their war-ravaged homeland in 2012 and spent years in Jordan before arriving in Canada. Since then, Alkadour and his wife, Neama Al Falah, have settled into a home in the Mooney's Bay area, launched their own business and had their fourth child, who has Canadian citizenship.
Alkadour said he was very happy to be able to start his own business in Canada, and hopes he will be able to help other people coming to the country that are unable to work.
"This country is very good and this country helped me," Alkadour said.
The couple first started selling their pastries on weekends in October after securing a space for the pop-up stall in the main entrance area of the Billings Bridge mall. They have juggled their time between starting the pastry business, raising their children and learning English. Alkadour has spent two days a week making pastries at a rented kitchen and then sells them on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Alkadour was not able to secure a spot in the mall for the rest of November and December, but he will return to Billings Bridge in January, 2019. He said he plans to sell his pastries there every weekend and his goal is to eventually start his own bricks-and-mortar store, preferably near Mooney's Bay.
Ideally, Alkadour is hoping to move into his own physical storefront in six months to a year and he is looking for a small store with a kitchen. Lamontagne is confident that Alkadour will be successful.
"It's not an easy road and we're not at the end of the road at all, but I think he'll succeed," said Lamontagne. "He's done very well here with his kiosk."