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Refugees stitch together new lives creating uniforms for first responders in B.C. and beyond

September 25, 2022

By Vancouver Sun |

Inside the 60-year-old tailoring shop on East Pender, it looks like a mini-United Nations.

Tailors, seamstresses, administration staff, even the owner of Claymore Clothes were all-but-one born elsewhere, many of them arriving in Canada as refugees.

But Farid Rohani has a better analogy than the UN to describe his staff’s makeup.

“To me, it’s a representation of what Canada means, of its diversity,” the shop owner said.

Rohani, whose family left Iran for Canada when he was a young boy, has a long record of promoting diversity and inclusion, earning multicultural commendations, serving as Vancouver chair for the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and leading the first hosting of a citizenship ceremony at a First Nation community.

He knew nothing of tailoring when he bought the struggling company in August of 2020, and thus saved a couple of dozen jobs and the company from bankruptcy, he said.

The shop is full of sewing machines, printers and other industrial apparatuses that look like they have been there since the plant opened in 1962.

At least every three months, staff bring in food dishes from their homelands: Vietnam, China, Iran, Armenia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Sri Lanka.

“We went to the ethnic communities and we’ve been very, very successful in bringing people in from all ethnic backgrounds,” Rohani said.

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