“Never doubt your story has value, and merit, and by sharing it you could help someone else you have never met come to terms with something in their life. No one’s life story is boring.” Holly Salsman
It is no longer news that quite often, skilled new Canadians are unemployed or working in jobs that do not utilize their experience, leading to frustration, discouragement, and alienation. That was my story.
I landed in Calgary with my family in 2012 in high hopes of securing a fantastic job in my profession. I am a Biochemist by training but an IT professional by practice. As far back as 2007 (even before I applied for Canadian immigration), I got accredited by the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) – the Canadian IT body that sets the standard for the practice of IT profession hence my coming with high hopes was not out of place.
Sadly, things did not pan out for me the way I expected. I ended up working three jobs at the same time – I worked at a popular grocery store, a call center and at the Calgary airport offloading cargo planes. I had never done all that before and so, I felt horrible.
I hardly saw my family. Even worse, I felt like I had disappointed them despite the fact that they trusted me enough to abandon the comfort and everything else that they had always known in Nigeria for the so called Canadian dream.
In 2015, I was headhunted for a senior role by a Canadian multinational that I had applied to multiple times while still in Nigeria as far back as 2008. What greater way to confirm that everything was now falling in place? It was an ambitious enterprise filled with great people.
Barely six months into my engagement with this company, the recession that hit Calgary caught up with the company and lay off started. As they say in employment circles, the principle of “last in, first out” equally caught up with me and I was suddenly out of work.
“Life is queer with its twists and turns, as every one of us sometimes learns. And many a failure turns about, when he might have won if he’d stuck it out. Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow – You may succeed with another blow.” ~ John Greenleaf Whittier
But I did not quit. Instead, I evolved and went full blown as an entrepreneur. Another chapter of my life therefore started. It’s 2018 and I still do not have a plan to look back.
By virtue of the little narration that I made here, it is easy to assume and conclude that integrating into the Canadian society as a new immigrant is all about jobs, careers and businesses. I wish it were that simple. The act of immigrating to Canada itself is simple but the reality of integration after arrival is a complex experience. Unfortunately, you can’t really grasp what I am talking about unless you are also a first generation Canadian immigrant. This is why we are in the best position to share our own stories – what worked, what didn’t work, what we could have done better and what it cost us.
The home is usually the first casualty although it is so subtle, many don’t realize this on time. I am confident that most immigrants will acknowledge that they underestimated the impact of immigration on their family dynamics and stability. Meanwhile, stability in the home front will help people to not only press on in their fight to overcome integration challenges, it is also a great foundation for anyone to thrive. And this is just an example. There are loads of untold stories of struggles and triumphs that can light the path for others if only we will share our stories.
And it is possible. I dream a lot and I consider myself artistic or as some have described me – an idealist. I don’t play the ostrich, I am rooted in reality. However, I ask myself why things can’t be different. In the midst of chaos, I see opportunities and strategize how to turn the gory realities into glorious outcomes. I believe that together, we can change our world, one story at a time.
It is typical of me, I am moved by people’s integration challenges and I often feel that I have the responsibility to do something about it. It is not because I have all the answers or a monopoly of wisdom but because I have the heart to steer a change and help others go through less turbulence than I went through.
Evidently, my life story is still a work in progress. I have been through this path before. Multiple times. It’s the road less traveled, where I launch out trying to solve a problem without having anything more than an idea, the belief that it is possible and a dogged determination to do whatever it takes to make it a reality.
Like I said in my other article, “I love helping people, I hate it when people give up. I feel a pain in my heart when I imagine the possibilities that could have been if someone had not given up. I like to inspire hope and it’s not because I am perfect. Rather, it’s because I have accepted my mortality and continue to rise above my imperfections in order to reach my goals”.
One major way through which I continue to fulfill that inspirational craving is by sharing my story and that of friends or colleagues with others over the phone and in public speaking opportunities. By doing that, I give people different perspectives to consider while making decisions in their immigration and integration journey.
Sometimes, I merely validate their thoughts and preferences with what I share but that alone gives them the confidence to move forward being fully aware that someone else has certainly passed through an experience similar to theirs. Not feeling alone or ignorant is a big part of this Canadian journey. This continual engagement with people, many of whom, I have never met in person has helped me to consistently evaluate my experiences, harvest very useful learning and form lasting valuable relationships with a lot of people.
When I speak at high-powered private, government and international functions, I challenge leaders and decisions-makers to think differently, appreciate the economic potential in immigrants differently, the colossal economic loss to Canada and understand the urgency required in taking decisive actions now. A major challenge is that in order to bring lasting win-win changes to enterprises and national economies, the road less traveled is often required. Unfortunately in corporate and political circles, this is typically suicidal.
Well, I won’t wait. I will provoke lasting changes from ground up.
And now, by creating and making this platform accessible online, I am excited about the great opportunity that the Internet has afforded me to positively impact the lives of a lot more people than I currently do and therefore, build even greater relationships than my previous one-on-one discussions.
I am looking forward to building a community of people that are genuinely interested in supporting and learning from others. I feel that by doing that, we can all work together to develop a community that helps every first generation immigrant to THRIVE in Canada and not just survive. I strongly believe it is the right thing to do, based on my moral and value compass.
“An Individual has not started living fully until they can rise above the narrow confines of individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of humanity. Every person must decide at some point, whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment: ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is; what are you doing for others?” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his August 11, 1957 speech on “Conquering Self-Centeredness”
To cap it all, Immigrant Life, the Canadian narrative will mine collective intelligence drawn from individual experiences and narratives of Canadian immigrants like myself. We will build a community, a movement of like-minded individuals and make this intelligence available to everyone so that regardless of where you are in your Canadian immigration journey, you can leverage this information to make the best decisions that will help you thrive!
I am therefore on an ambitious journey to grow this community to become Canada’s most helpful national immigrant community by 2025. Hence, I encourage you click the button below, provide your name and email address in the form, check your email to confirm your subscription then, tell your friends about it!
Welcome aboard, the future is bright!
PS: When you join this movement, together we’ll uncover the lessons learned, tips, strategies and actionable insights that will help us thrive in Canada and make a difference in our various spheres of influence.