A Sylvan Lake family says it was God’s plan that they ended up living in Sylvan Lake after immigrating to Canada.
Onsy and Rosemary Tawadrous immigrated to Canada in 2011, while Rosemary was pregnant with their daughter Lara.
After completing school in Calgary to gain certification as a pharmacist, the family moved to Red Deer and eventually Sylvan Lake.
The two said they chose to immigrate to Canada out of every other country in the world because they wanted to offer a safe and stable life for their child.
“We are Egyptian by birth but we were living in Libya. In Libya there is no permanent residents and you can’t gain citizenship, we would have always be outsiders. We wanted to be in a place where we could be welcomed and part of the community,” said Onsy.
They applied for immigration to Canada, and were approved, but decided to wait until after Rosemary gave birth. However, that changed when civil unrest in Libya turned into a civil war.
To get out of the country and to safety, the couple hopped on the first plane they could get a seat on, which took them to Germany.
They spent two weeks in Germany, but with their application for immigration to Canada approved, the couple decided to make the move to Canada instead of going back to Libya.
Rosemary says it was hard to move while heavily pregnant and then to find a doctor once they arrived in Canada.
“We had planned to go back to Egypt [when the fighting started] but the first plane we got on was to Germany so that is where we went… I had wanted to stay to be around family for Lara’s birth, but that didn’t happen,” said Rosemary.
“When we arrived in Calgary we had nothing… We actually ended up knowing someone in Toronto who put us in contact with some people in Calgary who helped us get settled,” Onsy said.
Rosemary spent roughly three years in school in Calgary to gain her certification in pharmacy. Afterwards the family moved to Red Deer when Rosemary began working as a pharmacist in Sylvan Lake.
The family chose to move to Sylvan Lake a year later.
Onsy says he has made great connections and built relationships through the church the family attends, and did so right away. Because she works so often, Rosemary said it was a little more difficult to create the same relationships.
“I wasn’t going out hunting or fishing with people,” she joked. “But the customers that came in to the pharmacy were always nice and smiling. And, I found that people would approach me and want to get to know me.”
The Tawadrous family says it is important to the to be a part of the community and to give back as much as possible.
When they opened their own business in the community, Pharmasave, they did so with the goal to give back to the community that welcomed them with open arms.
Onsy said the grand opening of the store, which was last November, was done in an “Egyptian” way, in that the community, Town Councillors and the Mayor were all invited and food and drink was shared.
“If you show you want to be a part of the community, not an outsider, people are more likely to welcome and embrace you,” Onsy said.
Rosemary and Onsy say they plan to give back through their new business through fundraisers and community outreach wherever possible.
“We are truly honoured and blessed to be here and to have found a home here,” Onsy said.