Officials greet members of the Le family, recent arrivals from Vietnam. Pictured are (l-r) Bill Kershaw of Barriere Chamber of Commerce, Min Chen of Kamloops Immigration Services, acting mayor Donna Kibble, Hailam Le, Thn Dung Tran. Thai Le and Gia Bao Le. (Keith McNeill photo)

Vietnamese family plans new business in Barriere

By Keith McNeill

Trying to start a new business can be complicated for a recent immigrant to Canada.

Gia Bao Le wants to open a gym and fitness centre in Barriere.

In order to get a business bank account, he was told he first needs a business license. In order to get a business license, he needs to have proof of insurance. And in order to get insurance, he must first have a bank account.

Tasha Buchanan, the deputy corporate officer with District of Barriere, and Min Chen, a counsellor with Kamloops Immigration Services, said they would help him sort that one out.

Le and his family were recently at District of Barriere to receive some welcoming gifts from acting-mayor Donna Kibble and Bill Kershaw, president of Barriere Chamber of Commerce and Area O director for Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

With Le at the ceremony were his wife, Thu Dung Tran, son Thai Le, and daughter Hei Lam Le.

Thai Le is a student at a university in Rochester, New York while Hei Lam Le plans to attend school locally.

The immigrants from Vietnam are taking advantage of a government program that encourages new arrivals to Canada to settle in rural communities.

In return for setting up a new business that has at least one full-time employee, living in the community and operating a business in the community, they received special immigration status.

Gia Bao Le formerly ran a factory in Vietnam that provided services for other companies.

District of Barriere has had several prospects visit the community since signing up for the program, said Tasha Buchanan but, until now, all have changed their minds once they saw how small the town actually is.

“When I was visiting Calgary a taxi driver who was also an immigrant said to me that he could not understand why I would want to live in such a small town,” said Thu Dong Tran. “I told him that I did not want to live in a place that is as crowded as Hanoi, where I lived in Vietnam.”

Barriere Gym and Fitness Centre is expected to open soon at 4353 Connor Road in Barriere.

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