Exploring a new home with a career in trades

Lyazzat Alkan came to Canada from Turkey, after living there for 25 years. She aspires to be a hairdresser in the film industry but has learned some culinary skills along the way.

‘Hollywood North’ has been a draw for many people wanting to make a career in movies and TV, like Lyazzat Alkan, who immigrated to Canada three years ago and has her eye on becoming a hair stylist for the film industry in Vancouver. 

Originally from Kazakhstan, Lyazzat has a rich personal history. She graduated from university with an engineering degree, took makeup design classes, and lived in Turkey for 25 years, where she owned a travel agency and a restaurant. 

She moved to B.C. to give her now 14-year-old son a better future and has been working as an extra in films for the last year and a half. 

“I really like the atmosphere that reigns during filming but would like to do something more,” says Lyazzat. “I have talked to hairdressers and makeup artists in the film industry and would very much like to work as a hairdresser.” 

Through her case manager at WorkBC, she learned about a trades sampler program for immigrant women being offered by Progressive Intercultural Community Services, in partnership with Industry Training Authority, and Vancouver Community College. The sampler offers 12 weeks of hands-on exploratory training in hair design, culinary, and baking. 

The program began with hair design in early March but moved to online training for the remaining sections because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Before the closing of the college, we had the opportunity to practice hairstyling, and it was great,” says Lyazzat. “Thanks to an excellent teacher, we learned to cut and color hair and got a lot of knowledge in a short time.”

Lyazzat also enjoyed the culinary lessons. “We had a great teacher who turned every lesson into a show and awakened my desire to create in the kitchen and a lot of positive emotions. He presented new information about cooking methods in a very light and relaxed atmosphere.”

She plans to take additional hairstyling classes in the future and hopes to volunteer in hairdressing to gain some experience in the film industry when things get back to normal. 

Lyazzat’s advice to other women who are starting new lives in Canada: “Do not be afraid. Try something new when given the opportunity.”

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