British Columbia

Fruiticana owner Tony Singh donates fruit baskets to Syrian refugees

Surrey businessman Tony Singh wants Syrian refugees to feel the same warm welcome he received when he arrived in Canada as a 10-year-old boy in 1975.

Surrey business owner inspired by a simple welcoming gesture when he was 10

Fruiticana founder and president Tony Singh says the refugees he met on Thursday remind of him of when he first came to Canada. (CBC)

Surrey businessman Tony Singh wants Syrian refugees to feel the same warm welcome he received when he arrived in Canada as a 10-year-old boy in 1975.

"Our neighbour invited us over for dinner," Singh said.

"The simple gesture had such a profound impact on me and my life. It showed me what it means to be Canadian. I wanted to pass on that same special feeling to these Syrian refugees arriving in Canada."

Singh, the founder and president of Fruiticana, spent the afternoon handing out grocery bags full of food to Canadian newcomers in Surrey.

"I became a successful businessperson and Canadian because of a simple and powerful message," he said.

"I'm sure many of these refugees, especially the children, will go on to make many positive contributions to Canada in the future."

Donations Needed

The items in the grocery bags have been carefully selected with the help of the Muslim Food Bank.

"From a cultural sensitivity perspective, what we try to do is give the refugees foods that they would typically eat in their home country," said director Mainu Ahmed.

Fruiticana works with the Muslim Food Bank to make sure the items in the grocery bag are culturally and religiously appropriate. (CBC)

"Yogurt is quite big in their diet. Olives. Pita bread. And because many of them are Muslim, we try to make sure, from the religious perspective, that there is no pork in the packages."

The MFB, which serves about 450 families throughout Metro Vancouver, is in dire need of donations and volunteers.

Ahmed hopes today's event will encourage others to think about giving.

"We also do a range of services for the new refugees, and the initial food basket is only the beginning," he said.

"We also ensure when they arrive that they have basic toiletries so they don't have to get out to shops where they don't speak the language and aren't familiar with the surroundings."

About the Author

Jesse Johnston worked in private radio from 2004 to 2014 in Vancouver, Red Deer and Calgary. He spent the next five years based out of Surrey (his hometown) as CBC's South of the Fraser reporter until he joined the Impact Team in 2019. Jesse is a two-time recipient of the RTDNA Dave Rogers Award for Best Short Radio Feature. He loves radio, running and dogs. He also loves the Detroit Lions, but if you follow him on Twitter, you already knew that. @Jesse_Johnston


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.