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Mohamed Ihab Pharmacist film buff

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When pharmacist Mohamed Ihab left his native Egypt for Canada in 2008, he knew of the difficulties that many immigrants encounter when resettling in a new country. “Some immigrants come and their credentials are not recognized and they fall into very stressful situations where they do casual jobs and they don’t have enough time to study for the exams,” says Ihab, who worked to have the credential evaluation process completed before coming to Canada and beginning his internship at a drugstore in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.

It was a lot of hard work, but for the pharmacist/ebullient film buff and founder of Vancouver’s Reel Causes — a not-for-profit organization connecting cinephiles to charitable causes — it was an invaluable decision that enabled him to pursue other interests when he came to Canada outside his day job.

“Before I came to Canada, I didn’t want to be just another immigrant who comes and tries to make ends meet. Of course, I wanted to make a living and have money, right? But I wanted to do something to help the society that I live in, to have a purpose in society, to add something.”

It took Ihab just three months of living in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island to settle in, make new friends, plant the seeds of a social network that would later flourish into his film-related charitable organization — and to make the local news.

“My parents were happy — after three months in Canada, they write about me in the papers. That was very nice. It was very motivating for me,” says the affable Ihab with a chuckle, noting that in true Egyptian fashion, he came “to know half the town” in a very short time.

When his pharmaceutical internship came to an end, Ihab moved to Vancouver and became a licensed relief pharmacist who travels throughout the province’s remote areas. A voracious viewer of independent and “non-Hollywood” films, and a gregarious individual who enjoys the company and conversation of friends, Ihab then founded the Vancouver International and Independent Cinema Group on, which now boasts a membership of 825. That evolved into Reel Causes, which aims to take the love for film “a step further” by providing filmgoers with the opportunity to support local non-profits through ticket purchases.

“I was asking myself, ‘How can I make use of my big group and all of the network I started? How can I make something good out of that?’” says Ihab.

Published in Canadian Immigrant December Issue,