You don’t have to be idle. Put what you have to good use, says Girmay Assefaw.
This is the third profile in a series highlighting some of the Hamilton area’s successful immigrants.
Name: Girmay Assefaw
Country of origin: Eritrea
Year of Arrival: 2012
Describe your work
I am employed at Zaniko Machining in Stoney Creek
What brought you to Hamilton?
My daughter is here in Hamilton. I had heard that Hamilton has steel factories and since my profession is that of a machinist, I thought it would be a good choice.
What skills, experience, business knowledge and global connections did you bring to Hamilton?
I have a machinist diploma and more than 20 years of experience working as a machinist in my country of origin. In Eritrea, I operated my own machinery shop for 12 years.
What has helped you settle in Hamilton?
My daughter works as a registered nurse in Hamilton and having her here has helped me settle. When I came to Canada, I did not sit idle. I attended Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classes at Jackson Square and the Immigrant Women’s Centre, to improve my English.
It was not easy to find work but we tried not to take any welfare assistance. I would go to the library and research machine shops online. I discovered that there are about 50 machinery shops in Hamilton. The YMCA helped me prepare my resumé. I tried to hand in my resumé in person at all the places. Until I obtained work in my profession, I tried to find work as a labourer. I did acquire some experience working at a marble company and then packing chocolate at a factory before I got a call from my current employer.
Can you describe a moment or experience when you felt successful, since your arrival in Hamilton?
When I started teaching Tigrinya language to children from the Eritrean community in Hamilton. I teach every Saturday and there are about 15 students in the class. I am happy that they are able to read and write in the Tigrinya language.
What is your favourite place in Hamilton?
The library — it has so many resources to learn and connect you with the world
What surprised you about living here?
I was surprised to see the fall colours.
What advice do you have for people who are new to Hamilton?
Hamilton has everything. Job search is a little bit hard but there are opportunities that you have to look out for. Look at me, I am 57 years old but I am employed. Young people should not think that they can’t work here.
You don’t have to be idle but put what you have to good use. There are so many recreational facilities. You can participate in constructive activities and stay healthy.
What are your plans for the future?
Improve my English. I withdrew from university in my country of origin. Studies did not interest me back then, but now I am interested in studying human development. At the moment, my hurdle is the English language.
* This article was originally published in The Hamilton Spectator and has been republished with permission.
** This series is a joint initiative of the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council, Workforce Planning Hamilton and the City of Hamilton’s Immigrant Attraction Action Plan.