From coming to Canada with nothing and not speaking a word of English to being one of the finalists in the 14th annual Small Business BC Awards, Lilian Cazacu said anything is possible in this country with hard work.
Cazacu, founder of Lilian Cazacu Notary Corporation in Langley, is a finalist in the Immigrant Entrepreneur category of the prestigious awards, which will be celebrated in Vancouver at a gala in February.
Immigrating here from Moldova with a law degree, masters and PhD, Cazacu quickly learned that his certification and education didn’t mean much here.
“I came here thinking I was somebody. I was told I was nobody. I went back to school (getting his Masters of Arts in Applied Legal Studies at SFU) to say, yes I am somebody,” he said.
But arriving to Canada with a wife and children and not speaking a word of English was very difficult, he recalls.
“I spoke some French but no English. I say this about it: It’s like learning to swim two different ways — In a pool or in the ocean. I learned to swim in the ocean,” he said.
After getting his Master’s, he was commissioned as a notary. He was working as a wills and estates paralegal in a busy Vancouver law firm, drafting thousands of estate planning documents, but commuting three hours a day.
A few years later, he runs his own notary that employs four people.
“It’s been a team effort with my wife,” he added.
He said being a finalist in the Small Business BC Awards feels good.
“It feels good to represent Langley and also the majority of the finalists were born here in Canada and here I am, I came here with no money and now I’m showing my children that with hard work you can accomplish a lot.”
Since Cazacu has made it this far, next he will have to make a pitch about himself in-person at Small Business BC in Vancouver between Feb. 6 and 14.
“It’s a Dragons’ Den scenario. I’ve never been through this before but it’s good experience and something to look back on,” he said.
“I’m just glad it is in the winter, our slower time.”
The winners will be announced at the Small Business BC Awards Ceremony at the Pan Pacific Vancouver on Feb. 23 during an evening of drinks, appetizers and networking with 500 B.C. business owners, industry influencers, government officials and special guests.
Recipients of Small Business BC Awards will be recognized with the Premier’s Prize in the amount of $1,500 cash, a one-year all-access pass to Small Business BC education, resources and experts, and one-on-one business mentorship with notable advisors from the award sponsors.
To get this far, Cazacu had to activate people’s votes online. This year, there were 699 nominations from 72 communities.
These awards recognize the outstanding achievements of B.C.’s entrepreneurs and celebrate the contributions new and existing businesses make.
Cazacu is no stranger to winning awards.
He is the winner of the 2016 Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce U40 Business Person of the Year.
While busy growing his practice, his priority is with his family.
“I’m trying to teach my girls and my little guy, that things aren’t just handed to you, that you must work to achieve your dreams. I want them to realize you don’t come to a country and they just give you everything. That is a harder value to teach in Canada where they can have everything so easily,” he said.
“My focus is on bringing up a family that appreciates life. I’m a family man. Whatever I do, I try to spend quality time with our family.”