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Immigrant Stories

Meet the Sahni Family

By Petrina D’Souza, 30 Jan, 2019

    Jaswinder Sahni works as an Engineering Manager at Prepac Manufacturing Ltd. & as a realtor with Sutton West Coast Realty

    Harpreet Sahni works as a Case Manager at WorkBC

    Jaskirat Sahni is a 4th year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Sciences at UBC

    Juppnaam is a grade seven student at Colebrook Elementary


    In May 2001, Jaswinder Sahni moved to Canada with his wife Harpreet and family seeking better prospects and good education for his children. “We wanted to be in a society that is fair and provides a better quality of life,” states Jaswinder. On arrival, they stayed with Harpreet’s brother and his wife for four months, before finding their own rental suite.

    While the surroundings were indeed different and more orderly, starting afresh independently was a new experience for the Sahnis. “Back home we had a lot of support as we were living in an extended family, where we never had to worry about doing things independently, such as buying groceries, cleaning, and doing many other tasks that we would never have to think about. Here, everyone was responsible for taking care of all matters of their household. This was a huge change for us,” recalls Jaswinder. 

    The first six months took a lot of getting used to, as the family was trying to understand the system, society and environment. “We were looking for jobs, a place to settle, and were trying to find our way when getting from place to place, such as accessing the nearest library or grocery store,” adds Harpreet. Accessible transit was one of the very first issues they faced; they came around the time when TransLink was on a very long strike. “All public transportation that used to be available was no longer accessible, so we used to walk several kilometers each day while job searching,” Jaswinder says while remembering that time. Yet, the family managed to make the most of the resources at hand.

    Like most immigrants, it was challenging to find work in their fields. “Some days, we were tempted to find any job we could to get started right away, but my brother and sister-in-law would convince us not to rush and compromise on our career,” says Harpreet, who found a part-time job after two months of job-searching as a computer center facilitator. Today, she is working as a case manager at WorkBC.

    Jaswinder started exploring different companies in his field, and visited over 20 companies, looking for potential jobs. After two months, he was able to get a job with a manufacturing company, starting first in drafting and designing; it took nearly a year to secure his job as a quality engineer. After five years of working as a quality engineer, he was promoted to his current job of being an engineering manager. A few years later, Jaswinder decided to also pursue his passion for real estate and completed his real estate program. He has been working as a part-time real estate agent alongside his full-time job for 10 years now.

    The Sahni family states that their experience adapting and growing in the country has been a roller coaster ride, with its fair share of ups and downs. “We truly believe it has been worth moving to Canada, and when we look back at our journey, it is so humbling to see how far we have come. We still continue to stay true to our roots, and our previous hardships and experiences remind us of how much there is to be grateful for,” shares Harpreet. 

    Jaswinder and Harpreet see a very bright future ahead, especially for their children. “The future holds so many opportunities that continue to help us grow and evolve in our personal and professional lives,” the couple adds in conclusion.

    Like & dislike about Canada:

    Like: You have a lot of opportunities to grow and a fair system in which you are recognized on your own merit. Potential is recognized and valued in society, which is so rewarding when you are working in any field. You are valued as a human being, no matter where you work and what you do. The structure with which everything runs, such as traffic, organization, and mutual understanding is great to see as well. So many people also give back to the community and contribute to society in different ways to help the community.

    Dislike: Even though there are many opportunities, job security always keeps changing, and you have to struggle sometimes because you continuously compete with others who have local education. Since our education is from elsewhere, this is a challenge we face when competing for jobs.

    Advice for immigrants:

    The road to success is going to be tough, but if you try to stay focused in your own field and do what it takes to build on the career of your choice, it will be more rewarding in the end. When you first arrive in Canada, you may want to settle for the first job you can find, but if you are able to motivate yourself to work hard, even study if needed, and do what it takes to stay relevant to the field you were well-settled in back home, you will be able to do it. We believe that immigrants need to have definite goals, and a burning desire to achieve it. 

    Memories of your homeland:

    Spending time with friends who we grew up with, and being with the extended family we were so used to is something we will always remember and cherish. We remember the warm hearts and giving nature of our neighbours, who we would know and be so close with. Neighbours were just like family, and looked out for one another. We used to enjoy big celebrations for birthdays and other occasions, and every weekend was filled with great food, relaxation, and time with friends and family.

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