O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
On this CanadaDay, it is time to reflect, appraise and look forward.
The history of Canada is unfortunately a mixed one of bitter-sweet.
As welcoming as Canada is to immigrants, unfortunately we have a dark history and a growing intolerance that has continued to haunt us.
There is an increasing and discomforting evidence of the inhumanity displayed to Indigenous Canadians, to Asians, immigrants of color, Muslims, citizens with differing beliefs and lifestyle and foreign-trained professionals.
It is sad and exasperating but what can we do?
There is no easy answer but very importantly, we must acknowledge what we’ve done wrong.
We must admit that we have a problem.
We need to initiate open conversations about both the past, the present and the future.
Finally, we must always remember our past and leverage that to chart the path to a Canada that we will continue to be proud of.
I will always remember my past.
Originally from Nigeria, my family and I made Calgary home in 2012 after about 15 years of consistent planning and preparation for a life in Canada. We did everything that we could such as professional licensing and credential evaluation before arrival yet, it took me 9 months of intense struggle to secure my first professional job.
Before securing my first professional job, I worked 3 survival jobs every day yet my take home pay couldn’t even take me home. My family went through needless pain, and I was near depression. I thought I had failed them in the process of trying to secure their future.
I experienced professional discrimination.
Fortunately, I got back into my professional line and I even got promoted. At a point, I got headhunted and finally life looked good and our decision to make Canada our first home was beginning to make sense. Unknown to me, Murphy was lurking in the corner – the recession hit and in 2015, I lost my job.
A different phase began. In the midst of my personal struggles, I organized a conference (Arise Calgary) for others like me who lost their job in Calgary in order to address a raging problem of increasing suicide rate mostly attributed to job losses.
Over two hundred people attended and when they showed up, they were shocked that I was also without a job! Why and how would a jobless man organize a conference to find a solution to other people’s joblessness?
It didn’t add up but it wasn’t about me.
That eventually gave birth to The Immigrant Life on July 1, 2018, where my story and that of others have served as a light to other immigrants. Since then, The Immigrant Life has turned into a movement. It has grown beyond me and today, we have impacted immigrants in 100 Canadian cities living in all Provinces and Territories except Nunavut.
We have even gone international where we have reached over 112 countries helping prospective immigrants to make Canada, their destination of choice. In the midst of the pandemic in 2020, we had our first annual conference (Thrive Conference) where we had over 30 distinguished speakers including the Mayor of Calgary, Mayor Naheed Nenshi speak to our community members on how to “Live a Colorful Immigrant Life”
We have indeed come a long way but where are we headed?
We are now combining our trendsetting habit of sharing inspiring immigrant stories and actionable insights with strategic influences that will create enduring systemic changes.
This will ensure that all first-generation Canadians have a better story.
How are we going to achieve this?
Our team has been hard at work in the last few months brainstorming on how to achieve this and based on what we now know, the future is bright.
How can you be a part of it?
Join our community and let us work together to create the Canada of our dreams.
Happy Canada Day!
Written by Dapo Bankole.
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