If you have a dream, Canada will be the country
Joey Nasrallah is a man of strong beliefs and an unwavering conviction that Canada truly is a land of opportunity.
He credits success in his new country to a blend of luck, a belief in what he was doing, honesty, and a strong work ethic. This combination enabled him to immigrate to Nova Scotia and become the successful owner and operator of A1 Pizza in Liverpool, in addition to several other ventures. Joey says that in Canada,
The opportunity to succeed was not one that was available to him in his native Lebanon.
In Lebanon, Joey was an unemployed youth with meagre prospects. With little money, no job and an everyday life fraught with the dangers of an ongoing civil war, he dreamed of a different life. His older sister Marie had immigrated to Canada several years previous and the thought of doing the same was always in the back of his mind. In the late 1980’s he got a welcome and unexpected opportunity. Marie sent him a letter with money and instructions to go immediately to the Canadian visa office in Cypress to apply for immigration. She had even provided a list of contacts and made arrangements for lodging at a hotel near the embassy. It was his chance and he took it.
Joey’s visa was processed in three months and in August of 1989 he arrived in Canada.
He landed at the Halifax airport on a Wednesday at 4:00 pm and just two hours later he was hard at work at his sister and brother in law’s pizzeria in Stewiake. For the next seven years he worked in the family business, becoming skilled at cooking a variety of popular items, including the house specialty – pizza. Because the only English word he knew was “hi,” he also worked very hard to acquire the language skills necessary for his new life. He learned how to run a busy restaurant and saved for the time when he would be in the position to buy his own. In 1996, the time was right and when a cheese salesman told him of a restaurant for sale in Liverpool, Joey bought A1 Pizza.
Liverpool is a small town, nestled on the banks of the Mersey River, with a friendly population and an enviable quality of life; an ideal place to live and raise a family. He had met his future wife Sammi, (also from Lebanon), while she was visiting relatives in Stewiake and in 1998 she too immigrated and they married. Today they have three children: Anna Maria 12, Nathan 10 and Patrick 3. Sammi is busy with the three children but also finds time to work part time in a local store. Anna Maria and Nathan both do very well at school, take piano and gymnastic classes. Nathan is heavily involved in hockey and was named MVP at an Atom level hockey tournament.
Joey is sure he made the right decision to immigrate.
The Nasrallah family enjoys life in rural Nova Scotia; they have many friends and are proud to be part of their community. The community is also proud to have them.
In speaking of the Nasrallahs, John Leefe, Mayor of the Region of Queens says,
“In choosing Liverpool for their new home, Joey and Sammi Nasrallah have not only enriched their lives and those of their children, they have enriched our lives as well. Theirs is the successful immigrant story we all want to hear, namely excellent work ethic, good business savvy, investment in our community, strong family orientation and overt loyalty to their new country. These are the values upon which Canada was built and they are the values we should seek to emulate ourselves as well as look for in newcomers to our community no matter from where in the world they come.”
Although Canada is his new home, and he is a staunch supporter of all things Canadian, Joey has not forgotten Lebanon. “Lebanon is my mother who nurtured me and Canada is my father who gave me opportunity.” A small tattoo on his chest just over his heart exemplifies this. Within a small circle sits an emblem that is half Lebanon Cedar and half Canadian maple leaf, the outward manifestation of his inner belief. He encourages all new immigrants to remember and value their country of origin, and to also accept and embrace the differences in their new home.
Joey feels that many Canadians do not realize what a great country they live in and take for granted what other people can only dream of. Coming from a non democratic country where violence was part of everyday life, and education, health care and career prospects were minimal, he is well placed to appreciate all that Canada has to offer. It is his opinion that if Canadians had the opportunity to live elsewhere, in less fortunate circumstances for a time, they would truly value what they have here at home.
Since 1989, Joey Nasrallah has never looked back, he has taken advantage of every opportunity that his new country has afforded him, and through luck and determination has built a good life for himself and his family on the south shore of Nova Scotia.
“If you have a dream, Canada will be the country. You have to knock on the right door, but if it doesn’t open, try another, and keep trying. Canada is worth it.”