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Immigrant Stories

Meet the Singh Family

By Saira Hayre, Darpan, 22 Jul, 2014

    KN Singh is an Inspector at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

    Poonam Singh is a Post Doctoral Researcher at the Institute of Sustainable Horticulture (Kwantlen Polytechnic University) and faculty at School of Horticulture (Kwantlen Polytechnic University).

    Manan Singh, their son is eight-years-old


    Getting Here:

    After failing to find jobs in the same province and trying to maintain a long- distance relationship in India for several years, KN and Poonam Singh decided that it was time for them "to find a new and secure place" where they could both be together.  

    "My husband and I were working in different provinces in India.  We were satisfied on our professional side but our family life was very difficult.  We were a long-distance couple and every weekend, my husband used to travel 10 hours to stay with me for one day.  We managed this lifestyle for a few years, but after having our baby boy, the challenges kept on escalating with time," says Poonam.  
    After concluding that they had to relocate to a new place, KN received an opportunity to work in Canada.  

    "I applied for a work visa for Sidhu and Son’s Nursery while I was in India.  They were, at first, a little skeptical about hiring me because of my PhD degree.  However, one of our common friends assured them about my efficiency and work ethic. The employers were convinced and they offered me a job. I came to Canada on work visa [in July 2008]," explains KN.  

    In November 2010, KN received his permanent residency and Poonam along with the couple's young son, Manan, came to Canada in January 2011.  
    "I was at the peak of my career at this moment; I knew it would be very difficult to start everything afresh, but I was so committed to live with KN, that everything else felt small.  I left my job and joined him," says

    Poonam, who has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, a Masters in Science in Landscaping and Floriculture, as well as a Doctor of Philosophy in Horticulture, all from India.  
    After arriving in Canada, Poonam joined various organizations like Skills Connect and the Employment Mentorship Program to connect with fellow immigrants and learn from their experiences.

    "My goal in Canada was to get back to teaching and research profession in Horticulture…but twelve weeks after landing, I still could not get the right break through traditional job search means, such as replying to newspaper or internet ads," recalls Poonam. It was then that she decided to conduct informational interviews with various individuals within the horticultural industry.  

    Six months later, she secured a job as a Post Doctoral Researcher at the Institute of Sustainable Horticulture at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.  She now works as a faculty member in the School of Horticulture at the same university.

    Talking about obstacles that he faced, KN, who works as an Inspector at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says, "As an introvert, it was difficult for me to get out of my comfort zone and develop a professional network.  Also, not having enough good references was a challenge for me to get started towards my professional journey."  

    Despite the challenges that they both initially faced, both KN and Poonam are happy with their decision to immigrate to Canada. "Canada is truly a great country for immigrants and offers spectacular beauty, a healthy environment, cultural diversity and lively communities.  Coming from a developing country, I am particularly impressed with honesty and integrity of the Canadian system!" says KN, who previously worked as a Post Doctoral Researcher at Simon Fraser University. 

    Biggest Obstacle:
    Poonam: “As a horticulturist, I wanted to go to greenhouses and start an entry level job to learn about the Canadian industry.  Because of having a PhD degree, I was considered being overqualified and was not accepted anywhere for basic entry level jobs.  Conversly, when I was applying for teaching jobs in horticulture, I was constantly being told that I do not have Canadian industry experience. Both of these things were contradictory to each other, which I suppose was the biggest obstacle for me. Also, I felt deprived of the day to day physical and moral support provided by my parents.  My husband's income was just enough for us to survive in Canada; my biggest challenge was to bear extra financial burden for the education, child care and other miscellaneous expenses.”  

    KN: “I tried to stay current in my area of specialization and research and become familiar with latest trends and recent advances in the subject.  We provided physical, mental, emotional support to each other; this force kept us moving during this journey.”

    Poonam: “I believe that trying to continuously improve your knowledge and skills is an important factor for living a successful professional life in Canada.  At first, one may think that why does one have to evaluate credentials, get Canadian education or experience. But once you will start working within Canadian culture, you will soon realize how important it was for you to go through that process and start at entry level jobs and tune yourself according to the local standards.”

    “We miss times spent with family and friends but connecting with them via the phone or internet is great.

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