Faces of B.C. - Salah Ali Saleh from Benghazi, Libya
The first in a series of profiles of people living in B.C. born in each of 194 countries in the world
As the CBC launches Faces of B.C., with the aim of finding B.C. residents who were born in each of 194 countries in the world, we profile deli owner Salah Ali Saleh who was born in Benghazi, Libya.
Saleh left Libya 24 years ago, when the North African country was still under the power of Moammar Gadhafi.
"It was the time of Gaddafi so I left because I was opposing the regime there. I left because I didn't want to be part of that regime," Saleh told the CBC.
Montreal was Saleh's first stop but on a visit to B.C. he decided not to go back.
"Anybody in the world would love to live in British Columbia, especially the weather, the diversity, the food, everything is so nice."
But a change of country also brought a change of career for Saleh.
In Benghazi, he was an aircraft maintenance engineer and a national swim team champion.
In Vancouver, he's the king of smoked meat at Zako's Deli on Broadway and Cambie Street.
"We've spent a long time looking for the Montreal smoked meat experience and it doesn't exist much in Vancouver," said loyal customer Roy Kirton.
"Now he's opened up, we have a place to go and I don't have to go 3000 miles for lunch."
Every year during the Islamic month of Ramadan, Saleh gives back to the community by helping host a dinner for the less fortunate on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
"We started for 500 people and now, the last two years, we do 2000 people and we go to East Hastings," said Saleh.
Despite his move west Saleh's hockey allegiance is torn.
"I'm hoping next year would be like Montreal and Vancouver in the Stanley Cup final. That would be fun."
Nevertheless, he continues to extoll the virtues of his newfound home.
"There is nothing like B.C. or Vancouver, you know. It's so green everywhere. If you travel from here to the Okanagan, it's oh, wow."
Faces of B.C. — send us your story
Over the next three weeks, we'll be profiling other B.C. residents who were born in each of the 194 countries officially recognized by the government of Canada.
To share your story, take a headshot photo and send it to us using the form on this page or click on the map below.
We will choose one story and image from each country for our Faces of B.C. map and some will be profiled on on CBC Radio and CBC Television in the week leading up to Canada Day.