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This is my first message on my post landing experience in Toronto last month. The last 4 weeks have been full of surprises and I’d like to share some of my 2 cents from a different perspective.
The first big surprise was at the first immigration counter when the immigration officer said to me “Welcome to Canada, your new home..eh”. I cannot describe the feeling, every country that I have been to in the past I was asked at the immigration “When do you plan to leave?” The next immigration officer turned out to be a lady of indian origin, she took my picture for PR and did not even bother to check my landing funds, even when I insisted on showing ( I spent $10 in getting the drafts made and no one even looked at it )Then I was given a welcome package with vital info for new immigrants. This booklet holds info on the wealth of resources in local areas in Canada. Every resource listed in this booklet should be explored, to my surprise I found many new immigrants giving up too soon on the resources mentioned. The whole process from stepping out of aircraft to clearing customs took not more than 40 minutes.
Outside the airport I was greeted by one of the coldest days of the season with -31C and winds. I was happy I landed on the coldest day because every other days seemed like spring even it was -5 outside.
The next day after applying for my SIN card I attended a seminar in a nearby new comer information center (NIC). There were about 20-25 other new immigrants at this seminar and it gave a wealth of info for a new comer ranging from local info on GTA to how to prepare and look for jobs. These NIC’s also have one on one counselors to help every new comer target the jobs in his own field. Like NICs, there are many such centers and organizations all across canada and what surprised me that how much the Govt is doing to help the new immigrants settle in and get into the mainstream. In the 4 other countries where I have lived and worked before no such help was available, I had to struggle and find out things by myself.
We formed a group of 8-10 new immigrants when we met at NIC and it proved to be a great support structure, to be able to share your experiences and views with people in similar situations is a great help in itself. I took every opportunity to talk to every desi or immigrant I came across at bus stops at trains etc, getting different perspectives was a great learning experience in itself.
I’d like to differ with those who present a very negative image and say that only labor jobs are given to desis. I found a few major trends in immigrants which I feel is also contributing to the miseries of new immigrants. I may be wrong but the general trends which I was was quite disturbing
1. Many desis try to land a job as soon as possible within the first 2 weeks. $1=Rs30 factor and also the fear of spending from the settlement funds drives this trend but I’d suggest if one has to do labor jobs, do it after 3-4 months when one has tried every other avenue to get a break in their own field. Also many come with families and kids which will make things even worse in the beginning. Unless one is very well funded bringing families should be a big NO NO.
2. Many desis try to in the comfort zone of GTA. GTA is an industrial area Esp mississauga and west and most employment agencies there will give only labor and factory jobs, even if you hold an MBBS. I met very well qualified people doing labor jobs and were feeling happy that they are earning more than what they did in india. I was stupefied by one guy(B.E, MBA) who said he is doing day and night shifts at a factory just to accumulate 900 hours so that he can get unemployment insurance from the govt.
I don’t blame the govt. of canada for his miseries, if that is what his goals are then that is what he will get. Many of us don’t aim high enough.
We all have to struggle. the choice of where to struggle is ours. Whether to struggle really hard to re-qualify( if needed) and get into our own field or to keep struggling in menial jobs. The choice is really ours.
3. Not many desis make use of the Co-op and other employment programs offered by the govt. The down side of these programs is that one does not get paid for 5-6 months while one gets to work in firms in ones own field. 85% of those who participate in these programs get gainfully employed. Also,not many desis join french courses. I am not sure of the details, but I am told Govt of Quebec gives $500 a month to everyone who enrolls for a french learning class. A family of 4 grown ups could make $2000 a month for just attending french classes everyday for 4 hrs a day!! And one could then do other jobs as well to support. What do we gain by learning french? A whole new world of govt jobs will open to us besides the money and knowledge of another language. Think about it. It will take time but all good things take time.
4. Lastly and most importantly all new desis must work on communication and presentation before coming. That is the key for everything in Canada. I met a senior college prof from India with a PhD, he was complaining about lack of jobs. There are indians in senior positions in Canadian universities with less qualifications than him but what was the difference. The difference I felt was that this person despite his qualification could not even pronounce his name right “Sassi Kumar” for Shashi Kumar in a bihari/UP accent. No offence to Bihari’s please, I am a bihari too. To top it off he had strong sented “chameli ka tel” and drooping 70’s moustache … I wonder how could he clear any interview.
There are plenty of opportunities in Canada. To get to those we have to work hard to get local licencures and qualifications and canadianize ourselves with a positive outlook. And jobs and opportunities will follow in with time. Otherwise we will just working hard on menial jobs with no hopes for future.
There are very few places in the world which offer so many opportunities to new immigrants to settle down, we need find out about them to make full use of it to succeed.
Gook luck to all.
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