April 27, 2017

A Sense of Community at Burnbrae Farms


When Victor was a teenager, civil war broke out in his home country of Liberia, forcing him, his mother and seven sisters to flee to the Ivory Coast. The refugee camp that took them in became his home for the next 20 years.

With the help of United Welcome, a group of volunteers from the greater Brockville area’s United Church congregations, Victor applied to immigrate to Canada. The process took years and when he finally stepped onto Canadian soil this past July, he was elated. He was taken under the wing of the volunteer organization that helped him with the immigration process and was finally able to begin a new life in Brockville, Ontario. He describes this moment with overwhelming joy and a great big smile, “I was so happy, I finally felt safe”

A New Opportunity

Shortly after his arrival, United Welcome made contact with Burnbrae Farms to inquire about possible employment for Victor.

When Dean Reimann, Plant Manager at Lyn, heard about Victor, he suggested the team bring him in for an interview. Both Dean and Jim Elsasser, Senior Director, Brockville Operations, Research & Development, met with Victor and were impressed from that very moment.

“He interviewed exceptionally well and we were so pleased to offer him the job” Jim recalls, when we asked if he had any questions, Victor promptly replied, “Yes, just one question! When can I start?”

Victor then met with Chris Arch, Production Manager, Operations in Brockville, who gave him a plant tour and paired him up with Penny, a “work buddy”. She ensured that his integration into the team went smoothly and helped train him at his new job.

Jim has a lot to say about his employee, “We run the Brockville facility with an employee base which is very much like a big family. Victor embraces these values and has been an asset to our team. He also has a great sense of humor and wonderful smile!”

Looking Towards the Future

One of Victor’s goals is to learn to read and write. He has been enrolled at TR Leger School in Brockville for the past 5 months. This is important to him as up until now, he never had the opportunity to pursue an education. He is also a big fan of his new community, when asked what he loves the most about Brockville, “everything!” he exclaims.

The Bigger Picture

When looking back at his career, Jim says proudly “I have several significant accomplishments while working over the years in the food industry, but I truly believe hiring Victor is close to the top. Dean and I have gained tremendous satisfaction knowing that we have made a difference. People within our organization and local community feel the same way, and for that reason it is very gratifying.”