Abbotsford’s Dynamic Windows and Doors hires Iraqi and Syrian refugees to make windows for U.S. market
February 11, 2017
By Glen Schaefer, Vancouver Sun |
As the U.S. president tries to close his borders to refugees from Iraq and Syria, an Abbotsford company’s refugee employees from those countries are building high-end doors and windows destined for sale in the U.S.
Brian Davies, human resources director at Dynamic Windows and Doors, said the firm started hiring refugees in 2013 to deal with a labour shortage. Today, the proportion of refugees among the firm’s 230 workers approaches 40 per cent.
“We were looking at needing some more people, and got connected with a church group,” said Davies, whose company was among 100 firms at a Friday forum in Vancouver sponsored by the non-profit Immigrant Employment Council of B.C.
“It has kind of snowballed from there,” Davies said, adding their hires included “a lot of folks from Iraq, from Syria, from Burma.”
Most of what they make, about 90 per cent, is destined for the U.S. luxury market.
The council has been holding an annual event since 2009 aimed at putting employers together with immigrants and refugees. This year’s event can’t help but take note of the Trump presidency and other global efforts to restrict immigration and refugees, council CEO Kelly Pollack said.
“When we’re talking about what’s going on in the world, and the incredible rising tide of bigotry and xenophobia that we’re seeing — Brexit, the U.S. election — we also see this as an opportunity,” Pollack said.
“As sad as it is, in some ways Canada is poised to benefit,” she said.
“In that world, where large international companies are increasingly looking for skilled talent from around the world, the ones who have head offices here in Canada and British Columbia, they’re going to have an easier time attracting talent than folks in the U.S.”
Since 2015, some 5,000 new Canadians who arrived here as refugees have settled across B.C., Pollack said.
Among them is Syrian computer technician Yousef Hadla, one of the conference speakers, who came to Canada about a year ago with his wife and two sons — the boys now aged six and eight — after three years as refugees in Jordan.
The fighting had come close to their hometown of Darayya, just south of Damascus, and they finally fled in 2013 when Hadla’s brother-in-law vanished after an encounter at a roadside checkpoint.