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When Colin came to Canada from Shanghai, China, he was looking for a change, as well as a stable working environment. As a father of young children, Colin wanted to ensure he could provide them with a good education and a safe environment to grow up in. When Colin visited the Northwest Territories for the fist time, he saw great potential for both himself and his family.
Colin applied to the Northwest Territories Nominee Program and became the first successful applicant. Through the program, he was able to purchase Diamond Drycleaners on September 30, 2016.
Colin says what he likes best about the Northwest Territories is the modest size of the city and the ease and comfort it provides him to go about his day-to-day activities. For anyone who might be considering making the Northwest Territories their home, Colin recommends coming to see the beauty of the landscape and the kindness of the residents for themselves. The territory is unique in that it presents newcomers with good opportunities to build their dream business, raise their families in a healthy and safe environment, and allows them to become part of a diverse community.
Abdullah Al Bodrees
Originally from Saudi Arabia, Abdullah and his family moved to Calgary, Alberta so his children could attend high school in Canada. Once his children finished high school, they moved to Houston, Texas to attend university, and Abdullah and his wife left Canada to work in Saudi Arabia. After years apart, Abdullah and his family were eager to reconnect. “We [were] tired of flying to visit each other,” Abdullah explained.
Abdullah and his family saw Yellowknife as the perfect place to reunite. “We decided [it was] the right time to leave Saudi Arabia. We [also knew we couldn’t] move without our kids,” Abdullah recalled. “We sat together as a family, and always knew we wanted [to move back to] Canada. It’s a safe, friendly environment.”
When he came to Yellowknife, he was happy he didn’t have to spend hours driving or commuting to work. “In my previous job in Saudi Arabia, I was driving every day. Almost 500 kilometers a day!” Abdullah said. “I liked the Northwest Territories, and precisely Yellowknife, because it’s a compact nice town… We wanted to find a place where we could just commute ten to fifteen minutes and get things done.”
When Abdullah first arrived in Yellowknife in November 2016, he was in awe of the personal connections he made. “I made good relations with many people. It’s easy to make friends [here].”
He also felt the Northwest Territories Nominee Program staff were very friendly. “[I looked into other programs], but I liked the Northwest Territories [Nominee Program] more because your process starts with a meeting in person,” Abdullah described. “In other provinces, you deal with websites, paper, and emails, but in the Northwest territories you deal with people… In the Northwest Territories, the first thing they do is meet with you.”
Abdullah wanted to find a small, welcoming community where he could bring his family back together. He is happy he found that opportunity in Yellowknife.
Originally from Lebanon, Rami came to the Northwest Territories hoping to start a new business venture. Rami believes that “the Northwest Territories is a land of opportunities and growth,” and that is why he decided to establish his home here.
When he arrived in the Northwest Territories in 2009, Rami and his business partner purchased Javaroma Gourmet Coffee & Tea Restaurant in downtown Yellowknife. In the eight years since, Rami has built the coffee shop into a local staple and has opened three additional locations around Yellowknife.
Rami says that the community in the Northwest Territories makes it possible for new businesses to succeed. “We have strong communities in the Northwest Territories and Yellowknife,” Rami says. “People like to support small local businesses and [like to] work with each other.”
When he first arrived, Rami worried he would face challenges as a newcomer. Instead, he discovered he had come to a community where diversity was welcomed. “People [in the Northwest Territories are] from different places in the world, speaking different languages. The diversity makes the community stronger.”
With his business thriving, Rami has big goals for the future. Ultimately, he hopes to open franchise locations throughout the rest of Canada, while he continues to manage his coffee shop empire from his home-base in Yellowknife. “If you want to succeed, you [will] always find a way,” Rami says.
When Sage came to Yellowknife from Japan in 1993, the only thing he missed from home was the food. So, he decided to open Sushi North in Yellowknife.
Sage believes that the Northwest Territories provides great opportunity to start a new business. He says, “[The people here] have good jobs and they spend money in town at local businesses. It is an active community.” Because the communities are smaller, “there is more opportunity here than in a big city, and [there is] less competition.”
Sage feels welcome in his new home and believes the diversity in the community is a great advantage to newcomers. “Yellowknife is still growing. There are opportunities for more restaurants, more businesses, more services.”
Sage notes that the Northwest Territories can be very cold in the winter, but it isn’t like the damp, wet cold like he experienced in his home city of Tokyo. Rather, it’s a dry cold that can easily be combatted with good winter clothing like a parka, snow boots, and mittens. The cold is quickly forgotten by the summertime, when the territory experiences long, warm summer days.
“Before moving here, applicants should come visit to see the town, enjoy the northern lights, visit the lakes and talk to the locals,” Sage recommends. Overall, Sage believes the Northwest Territories is a good place to invest, and it boasts open and welcoming communities.
Elaine is an experienced immigration consultant, and she has been impressed with how efficient and accessible the Northwest Territories Nominee Program is. “There was a short wait time for any meetings with the officers or any interviews,” Elaine said of her experience working with the program. “The Nominee Program turnaround time is efficient—well under 12–15 months from the first exploratory visit to the business plan assessment and decision.”
Elaine recognizes the sense of community available to newcomers in the Northwest Territories. “I would tell potential clients thinking of applying to the Northwest Territories Nominee Program to be prepared to really live there,” Elaine says. “Communities in the Northwest Territories have great community spirit: everyone knows everyone.”
Yellowknife may be a small city, but it has a lot to offer. Elaine explains, “Yellowknife has many features of a major city, is close to Edmonton and Calgary, and has a very stable economy and strong consumer spending powers.” It’s this combination of city and small community elements that make Elaine recognize the immense potential for new and unique businesses to flourish in the Northwest Territories.
In many communities of the Northwest Territories, local government, business advisors and other organizations have the ability to be more engaged with local business owners. Elaine explains this “[…] puts them at a good position to guide newcomers about the feasibility of investment opportunities. There is a lot of tax and legal expertise available locally.”
Elaine continues to work with immigration clients out of her Vancouver office. She will continue to recommend the Northwest Territories Nominee Program to potential applicants who are hoping to make Canada their new home.