A Kelowna, B.C. grocery store is being recognized by the federal government for its inclusive hiring policies and welcoming attitude towards new Canadians.

Peter's Your Independent Grocer was congratulated this week by Ahmed Hussen, the minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship as one of the winners of the 2017 Employer Awards for Newcomer Employment — the store employs about 200 staff members, of which more than 22 per cent are recent immigrants to Canada.

"I am both grateful for and impressed by the leadership role that Peter's YIG has played to support the successful settlement and integration of newcomers to Canada," said minister Hussen in a release.

"Through its unique hiring and training practices, Peter's YIG truly recognizes and breaks down the barriers that many newcomers experience when trying to find jobs."

Store employs people from Syria, Bangladesh, Jamaica

"It was a true honour," said grocery store owner Peter Boyd about being recognized.

"We've always had an inclusive group, but in the last five years it has really started to take on more importance than ever," he said.

Kelowna independent grocer worker

Irin Akhter started working at Peter's YIG almost immediately after coming to Canada from Bangladesh. (Brady Strachan/ CBC)

"To see the joy that [new Canadians] bring to the job or to watch them grow and move on ... just that first connection, to be part of it. It's pretty special."

The store employs people who have immigrated to Canada from Syria, Bangladesh and Jamaica among other places.

'It's a big family'

Irin Akhter came to Canada from Bangladesh about a year ago and started working at the grocery store almost immediately.

"Peter proves that we can be here and we can be part of his store, so we are really grateful to him," she said.

"I feel like not only Peter won that award, but we are also part of it."

"He always mentions that we are a team. I feel like it is a part of my family. It's a big family."

The Kelowna grocery store was one of three Canadian businesses to be recognized for integrating new Canadians into the workplace — Alberta's JBS Food Canada and Manitoba's HyLife Foods also received awards.

With files from Brady Strachan