When Ali and Homei Khalili decided to leave their home in Tehran, the capital of Iran, they had options.
Ali has two brothers who had already left to make their homes in Toronto.
Homei has three brothers in the U.S., and a sister in France.
They also had good jobs in Tehran. Ali was a certified independent auditor, and Homei an office administrator. They were making a good living, but they did not consider it a good life.
They were looking for a “good place to live,” one that would get them out from under the restrictive government of Iran, and the punishments that could occur from just walking down the street.
Ali makes the point that it doesn’t matter how much money you have if you are living under those conditions.
“Money doesn’t help when you are concerned about
They both said they believed money was less important than having a good life and a future for their kids.
They were looking for a land of opportunities, which Ali found in his first visit to Canada.
He first came to stay with his brother in Toronto to see the country, and to see how his brother lived.
He very quickly decided he loved it. “I told my wife, this is a great place to live. There is lots of opportunity.”
They arrived in Canada in 1998, going first to live in Hamilton. They felt that to “adapt to a new situation,” they wanted to study at Mohawk College, Ali for software engineering and Homei network hardware.
They successfully completed their courses, “but the market wasn’t there,” says Ali. “After sending out 1,000 resumes, I got one interview, and I didn’t get the job. But you have to live, so we starting searching for any kind of business. We came to this, and we’re still here,” he says, sitting in their Subway restaurant on Mississagua Street, open only for pickup at the moment, but still a popular place for locals during the week, and visitors on the weekend.
They first opened a franchise in Niagara Falls in 2004, and in 2010, opened their second location in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“We have made lots of friends, here and in Niagara Falls,” says Homei.
“We have customers who don’t have to order, we know what they want.”
“We see them outside and we can start to make what they want,” adds Ali.
They have two children, both with university degrees and now making their living in Toronto, enjoying city life, and Ali and Homei say, like all parents, they’re happy to see their kids taking advantage of the opportunities they were looking for when they came to Canada.
Although family is still what is most important to them, what means the most to them about their life in Canada, they both agree, is the freedom they found here.
There are no regrets about their decision, they say.
“We really appreciate what Canada has to offer,” says Ali.
“When we go out for a walk, it’s good to be able to breathe. We don’t have to be afraid of anything.”
He says it’s hard for those who have never lived in fear to understand what it’s like to live that way.
Homei agrees freedom is what they sought, and what they found in their new life in Canada.
But as well, like any parent, she says, “I love when I see my kids growing their talents, able to get what they want and what they need, being whatever they want to be.”
They have good friends, and good neighbours, they say.
And although they work hard, they have good
staff, and can take off weekends and holidays, such as Canada Day.
“Our employees are happy to have those hours,” says Ali.
They live in St. Davids, and love the Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery Canada Day events of past years, especially the fireworks.
They’re not sure what they will do this Canada Day, but they do know that it’s a day to be grateful.
“We feel very fortunate to be here. We are really happy we chose this country.”
Ali agrees. “We’re really fortunate we picked this country.”