Prince Edward County fisherman hands family business to Syrian refugee

CBC - Kendall Dewey, 66, was desperately looking for someone to take over the commercial fishing business that had been in his family for four generations.

If Dewey Fisheries closed, shops and restaurants in the area could be left without a source of local seafood. So Dewey contacted employment agencies and scouted people locally who might have an interest.

His search was falling short until he met ​Slieman al-Jasem, a refugee from Syria who'd never cleaned a fish before — but had a knack for learning quickly and a desire to run his own company.

Dewey and his wife Joanne had been starting their days before dawn, seven days a week. They'd been spending more than 70 hours each week laying and hauling traps, weighing and processing the daily catch and meeting with suppliers and buyers.

Last year, Dewey said, they decided they were "getting too old" and wanted to retire.

The family met al-Jasem at a local diner, where they watched a documentary about his life.

After a few more meetings, they chose him as their heir to the business. 

Now al-Jasem is learning how to scale and fillet the fish, and may eventually take over the fishing license as well. In just a few days, Dewey said, al-Jasem became faster than he was at processing the catch.

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