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  Becoming Canadian

"Canada defies limits: anything is possible, that's the lesson I learned and the lesson I shall pass on to my children and grandchildren and to all I live with, work with and plan with"
- Bridgelal Pachai, "My Africa My Canada" Lancelot Press 1989

Hong Kong-born Senator says diversity enriches Canada

Vivienne Poy, a Senator in Canada, says she had never felt she had national roots. Before my immigration to Canada, I was Chinese in a British colony (Hong Kong) where I had no vote. But Poy says her emotions changed when she became Canadian. "I felt that at last I had a country to call my own," she says. She came to Canada as a student, met her husband, and stayed. Prior to becoming a Senator, Poy was a self employed fashion designer, who marketed her merchandise both in Canada and overseas, two countries such as, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Japan and the United States. Even today she manages a couple of her private companies, as entrepreneur. Poy believes Canada is unique in the way it welcomes people from diverse cultures and encourages them to keep their cultures alive. "I do believe we enrich Canada with what we bring to this country, but there will always be segments of the population who oppose immigration. At a time when everything is being globalized, the economy, travel, everything, why not globalize people?" she asks. Senator Poy has three children - Ashley, a social worker with teachers degree, Justin, an artist and an entrepreneur, and Carter, who got his business degree in Canada and works in Canada, and works in China.

First Indian to be elected premier in Canada

Ujjal Dosanjh was a young boy, his grandfather would tell him stories about Kamagata Maru and heroes of India's freedom movement, Mahatma Ghandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. He says, at some point, those stories impacted solidly and steered his thinking towards higher and nobler goals. Kamagata Maru was a Japanese steamer that an infuencial Sikh, Gurdit Singh, had leased an order to bring some 360 East Indians mostly Punjabis, to Vancouver. Dosanjh who came to Canada from Punjab as a young man of 20, was elected Premier of British Columbia of February 2000. Dosanjh left India when he was 17 to England to study. "But I didn't have the money ,and so I took up part time jobs to pay for my schooling," he says. Three years later while strolling alongside the Canadian High Commission in London he decided on impulse to apply for Canadian immigration. He ended up in Vancouver. He initially went to work at a lumber mill while he studied at night school. A few months later an injury at the mill put him out of school and work for about a year. But he bounced back and finally finished is bachelor of arts degree and graduated in law from the University of BC. "I didn't wake up one morning and tell myself, let's get into politics." Activism, he says, has been a life-long interest. "I've always spoken out for farm workers rights, racism and human rights issues," he says.

Pakistani brings his talent to Canada's 5-star hospitality

On a good day especially when the Halifax Sheraton was hosting a banquet, Tahir Salamat, the hotel's former executive chief would be challenged to buy a truck-load of garden-fresh produce or dairy and cattle products worth anywhere up to $25000.
What did Salamat have to bother most about? "Well, the challenge is about staying on top - being the leader in the hospitality industry in Atlantic Canada," he says. "It's about keeping standards high." It may mean never having to fail and meeting gust expectations. Or it may mean constant staffed training and more important staff-empowerment.

British photographer says Canada is a culture shock

You would think that a British citizen would take to Canada like a duck to water. But you'll be surprised, says June Spindloe, who came to Canada from England few years ago. "It's truly a culture shock for us for many reasons. Firstly, because the British are arrogant, the courtesy of Canadian society appears to be overwhelming. How does one respond to a parcel pick-up suggestion at a store in Canada when one is used to jostling at cramped supermarkets in Britain?" The point is that while many would think that Canadian and British lifestyles are akin, they are really not. "The Tim Horton's coffee-culture that lets you walk out with a cup, is a world apart from England's, where you must sit down for a cup of coffee." Spindloe trained as a photographer in England but she works as a cosmetician at Sears, which brings her in contact with people of diverse origins. She says she enjoys this interaction with inter-races and therefore mixes business with pleasure. Her home is listed as a host-family in the St. Mary's University student-exchange program. But why are Britons coming to Canada anyway? Spindloe thinks it's because the average Briton is struggling with low incomes, the lack of housing, high-crime, and stressful living. Equally disconcerting is the class system, she says. She talks of the fact that factors of where you were born and raised, the "somewhere accent" and even religious discrimination come into play in British society. Thus the need for the average Briton to look for opportunity and a new society in Canada. Britons who come to Canada imagine that settling down will be a cakewalk, but that's not reality. When you come here you find that you are a non-person, no credit card for 6 months, no house mortgage, because one lacks a local credit record. The immigrant syndrome is not confined only to those who speak another language, but she never dreams of never getting back to Britain. "I shall never be able to resettle in Britain or fit into that class-driven society again."

Nigerian in Canada-Levy Eziruke

Nigeria's civil war between 1966 and 1970 drew thousands of its country-men in neighbouring Ghana. Levy had to leave Ghana for reasons of violence and repression. Levy decided to take the flight to the United States however he changed his mind having run into a Canadian. He instead took a flight to Toronto. Levy settled down in London, Ontario where he studied and worked his way up until his job brought him to Nova Scotia. He studied public administration at Dalhousie and currently serves as a Financial Officer with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Turmoil on the African continent today, he says, is forcing an exodus of people into Canada.

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