He's a new Islander by choice
As a child in Shiraz, Iran, Ali Siadat remembers watching Anne of Green Gables on television and recalling how beautiful its Prince Edward Island setting was.
Fast forward to five years ago, when he and his parents planned to move from Iran to Canada. They were advised that the immigration pathway would be fastest if they choose Canada’s smallest province. After a first impression of Charlottetown as a friendly and welcoming place, Siadat soon turned his focus to earning money to support his new life in Canada.
“It was tempting to move onto a larger city like Toronto where the Persian community is greater in numbers than the entire PEI population,” said Siadat. “Despite the emotional longing for familiar language and familiar faces, we decided to wait and give PEI more time.”
The resulting time helped Sadat and his family connect to supports in the community like the PEI Connectors. The program helped him learn how to start a business and introduced him to other new Islanders from different cultures. Together, they benefited from the workshops and network of local entrepreneurs, organized by the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Many people immigrate for a better quality of life, said Siadat. “I know of the challenges that newcomers face. It is very important to connect with people so that you feel like part of the community.”
Not so long ago a client of PEI Connectors, today Siadat is an employee. As a program officer, he loves the opportunity to help newcomers establish businesses in the province.
In June, Siadat was honoured with the New Islander Award by Fusion Charlottetown. The awards are presented to young Charlottetown residents “who are doing amazing things” and have dedicated themselves to strengthening the City of Charlottetown, the province, and the community.
Prince Edward Island is small, yet it offers what many larger cities cannot such as shorter commute times; affordable housing; lower start-up costs for business; easy access to local and international markets; and helpful government officials and support programs.
“There are many businesses that operate from PEI and have markets elsewhere. Everything is here to support you and your business vision – be it local or international.”
His advice to locals: create opportunities to get to know new residents. His advice to newcomers who plan to start a business in PEI: “be patient.”
Siadat himself now considers Prince Edward Island home.
“I’ve been to many of Canada’s largest cities and other areas of this beautiful country,” he said, “and whenever I travel, I miss PEI. It’s a mighty Island and I believe in it.”