"When you migrate to a new country it’s extremely hard, as you are uprooting your whole family and leaving behind a place where you lived for 32 years. You essentially are starting your personal and professional life from scratch again, however the people of Canada, my friends and family certainly made the process easier.”
Kanwarjit Kanwar works at RBC Commercial Banking
Mandeep Kanwar works as a teacher at Khalsa School
Angela and Jessey are students
Why did you decide to migrate to Canada?
I decided to migrate to Canada for better future opportunities and had heard from my family and friends about the great diversity, inclusion and acceptance of multi-cultural people in this country.
Which year did you migrate?
We came to Canada in July 2009.
What were your first impressions of Canada?
When you migrate to a new country it’s extremely hard, as you are uprooting your whole family and leaving behind a place where you lived for 32 years. You essentially are starting your personal and professional life from scratch again, however the people of Canada, my friends and family certainly made the process easier. The beautiful Canadian culture, ever-accepting people and natural beauty of this country certainly assured me that I made the right move.
Where did you stay when you reached Canada?
After reaching Canada, we stayed with my family’s friend at their home. Later we moved into a basement.
What challenges did you face when you and your family moved here?
There were many challenges like learning the culture, understanding how things operate, applying for a job or doing a series of interviews. My wife had to stay home to take care of our young kids. I was the only bread earner of the family, which did put financial pressure on us. But having a spouse or partner like Mandeep really helped, who not only gave me the mental support but also made this difficult time easier. In addition to get through the tough phase, I took two jobs, one full-time and one part-time to support my family.
How long did it take to get used to the people, weather or surrounding?
Our whole family loves the weather and the natural beauty of B.C. Our dream was to live at a hill station, so I guess we came to the perfect place in terms of environment. As I mentioned earlier people and communities over here are very welcoming.
How was your experience getting a job here?
When we migrated, I was mentally prepared that the initial part is going to be difficult in the professional life. I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to work for leading financial institution of Canada, RBC Royal Bank. I started as a teller which was an entry level position in banking, which not only helped me to understand the Canadian banking system, but also work culture. RBC’s diverse and inclusive values made the transition easy.
Where were you working before moving to Canada?
I was working with ICICI Prudential Life Insurance in the role of Area Manager, leading a team of over 100 employees that spanned across four states.
How do you see your future in Canada?
Canada is very a dynamic country and a person who is willing to put effort and hard work, would always succeed. Every day I put 100% effort into my personal and professional life with the goal of reaching and surpassing my positions that I held back home and helping my children and family prosper.
How has your overall journey in Canada been so far?
My journey in Canada has been everything that I hoped it would be and more. My family has a permanent home in B.C. and we are very fortunate to meet amazing people who have become my colleagues and friends. I look forward to the future and what it holds!
What do you like and dislike about this country?
There is nothing to dislike about Canada, I am proud to call myself a Canadian, we are all very fortunate to live in such a prosperous and beautiful country. One thing which I miss are my friends and families who live in various parts of the world.
The biggest obstacle faced so far in Canada?
My biggest obstacle was buying a home in Canada. In India, we do not have to worry about buying a home as the residence is usually passed down by our parents and grandparents. Coming to Canada I had to understand how to buy a home and get a mortgage along with other expenses that come with the big purchase.
Any advice for future immigrants?
Initially it will seem hard; you will face a lot of hardships and barriers but you will get through it. Make your friends and family in Canada your support system to help you overcome challenges. Work through the hardships together as a family. There is no bigger key then honesty, truth and giving back to the community which in our culture we call seva. Stay focused, work hard and trust in God.
Share memories of your homeland.
I miss the summer vacations when we used to go to our relatives/cousins for a month. We played cricket in the evenings and had competitive matches on the weekend. Playing with friends was a luxury.