New Brunswick

Moncton's Fancy Pokket gives free bread to Syrian refugees

About 900 Syrian refugees around the province will be getting free pita bread for the next two months, thanks to Mike Timani, owner of the Fancy Pokket Corporation in Moncton.

Mike Timani, owner of the Fancy Pokket, wants to help the refugees adjust to their new lives

About 900 Syrian refugees around New Brunswick will be getting free pita bread for the next two months, thanks to Moncton's Fancy Pokket Corp. 1:58

About 900 Syrian refugees around New Brunswick will be getting free pita bread for the next two months, thanks to Moncton's Fancy Pokket Corp. 

Mike Timani, the owner of Fancy Pokket, came to Canada in 1976, escaping from the civil war in Lebanon, and built an empire that produces millions of pitas, bagels, flatbreads and tortilla wraps.

Pita bread on the production line at the Fancy Pokket bakery. (CBC)
Timani says the challenges facing Syrian refugees who are now arriving in New Brunswick were once his reality, as he started a new life in a new country and worried about having enough to eat.

"By the time I had my work permit, I only had $50 in my pocket, so at that time you can imagine what I had to eat and to be careful … yes, I know what they will be going through," he said.

Timani is giving Syrian families in Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton a two-month supply of pita bread, which he says is the best choice for the Syrian newcomers as they "live on pita."

"The Syrians eat pita bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So for breakfast they eat it, they make sandwiches with it to go to school. This is how it is," he said.

Timani says Mohammad Tahran, just arrived from Tripoli with four children, was pleased to find the bread that he and his family have always eaten.

'I definitely need to bake a little more'

"They go through two a day, that's a lot," Timani laughs.

"So I definitely need to bake a little more for sure."

 A federal government website says 445 Syrian refugees have arrived in New Brunswick since Nov. 4.

The province expects to receive roughly 1,500 out of the 25,000 Syrian refugees that the federal government has committed to bringing to Canada.

Mohammad Tahran, newly arrived from Tripoli, has four children to feed. (CBC)
Organizations across the province have been working to arrange accommodations and language training for the refugees.

As well, the New Brunswick Multicultural Council recently released a 16-minute video, which was narrated in Arabic, in an attempt to help the newcomers adjust to their new home.

That adjustment process can be difficult, Timani said.

When he arrived to Canada, he says his village in Lebanon was under attack and he was afraid for the large family he left behind.

"At the time I was young, yes, I cried for sure. Missed my family for sure, because I didn't know what was happening to my family because they were still bombing my village," he said.

"I came from a big family, five boys and three girls and my parents, so it was very difficult."

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