NEW AJF SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SYRIAN ARMENIANS DEBUTS IN MONTREAL
On September 9, 2015, a group of 11 Syrian-Armenian expatriates began their studies at the École de gemmologie de Montréal (EGM), one of the prime jewellery sector academies in North America. All participants received study grants thanks to a private initiative headed by AJF in Canada.
As stated in the EGM course manual, “this introductory course is intended mainly for jewellers and is designed to help students discover gems. It covers topics such as the formation of crystals, mining and gems cutting and distribution. The curriculum enables students to understand the basis for identification of gemstones, i.e. how to recognize natural and imitation stones.” Successful graduates are expected to gain solid knowledge of this area, which will accelerate their integration as new immigrants.
This initiative was designed and managed by AJF with support from Montreal’s Armenian community organizations. Funding was provided by the Birks Family Foundation (BFF) for 10 students and by EGM for one student. During the first day of class, a small welcoming ceremony was held for the students.
“We are very pleased to provide you with the opportunity to learn at this prestigious school and improve your chances for quick integration into the Montreal economy. Syrians of Armenian origin have always been known as expert jewellers, which is why this is an optimal combination. We are grateful to the Birks Family Foundation and many volunteers who committed to make this project a reality for you,” said AJF Board of Trustees Chairman Mr. Pierre Akkelian at the debut of the class today. He was accompanied by the EGM Founder Ms. Odile Civitello, EGM Director Ms. Valerie Bombardier and AJF Director for Strategic Planning Mr. Hratch Kaspar.
On August 21, AJF participated in a Syriahay gathering in the community to explain the program. On August 28, AJF in collaboration with AGBU Montreal organized an information session for interested applicants. Overall, out of 30 applicants who arrived to Canada in recent months, the following were selected according to criteria developed by organizers: Diran Aharonian, Viken Apkarian, Haig Attachian, Rita Attachian, Knar Hamalian, Garabet Hassekian, Kevork Hassekian, Lilit Kandilian, Isken Karamanlian, Nerses Khachoyan, Tsolig Moughalian.
Thousands of Syrian Armenians fled the war and destruction in their country by seeking refuge elsewhere. Many families resettled in Canada thanks to support from community groups such as Hay Doun (see recent story in The Gazette). Montreal, is believed, to be a main destination and has already welcomed close to 1000 of them.
AJF has announced a second round of scholarships for Syrian Armenians in Canada for January 2016.