In late 2021, due to political upheaval in my home country, I found myself facing forced immigration. Luckily, my past connections in Canada opened a door for me, allowing me to leave in December 2021. After a stop in Pakistan for necessary travel documents, I commenced my immigration journey.
By May 1, 2022, I landed in Toronto, marking my return after 14 years. Despite the familiarity, Canada felt different this time, as I had left everything behind. The initial days were filled with homesickness and doubt about my decision. Fortunately, government support, informative sessions, and online classes provided a lifeline for newcomers like me.
Grateful for the support of friends, colleagues, and organizations, I gradually adapted. Financial aid from the Jeane Suave Foundation and the James Write Foundation eased my settlement. Canadian Connections furnished my new home, while the Live Your Potential program and Access Employment facilitated networking and career development.
In September 2022, I immersed myself in English classes and an interpreting course. The intense schedule kept homesickness at bay. Volunteering, joining Access Employment, and enrolling in the BEMC program further enriched my Canadian experience. These initiatives prepared me for the job market and integrated me into Canadian workplace culture.
A significant turning point came with my connection to Lilit Simonyan, who became my mentor. Through her guidance, I entered the LYP 2022 program, a transformative experience that bolstered my leadership skills. Lilit's hands-on approach extended to my employment at Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan), where I currently serve as a content creator for the Career Launcher Apprenticeships program.
To sum up my journey so far, these three points in the below section echo the very essence of my personal experiences:
1) What stood out for me as being different from what I was used to?
Cultural Shift: The cultural transition was significant. Arriving in Canada after leaving my home country due to political unrest, I found myself in a new place where I had to readjust to a different way of life.
Isolation and Homesickness: The feeling of homesickness was overwhelming, especially in the initial days. Leaving behind family, friends, and familiar surroundings created a sense of isolation that I had not experienced before.
Diverse Support Systems: The support systems in Canada, including government assistance, information sessions, and community organizations, were noteworthy. The emphasis on mental health and wellness for newcomers was something I hadn't encountered to such an extent in my home country.
Structured Newcomer Programs: Engaging in programs like English classes, mentorship initiatives, and bridging programs like BEMC provided a structured approach to settling in and building a new life. The focus on workplace culture and career building was particularly enlightening.
Personal Connection with Mentors: The personal connection with mentors was a unique experience. Having someone actively guide me through the intricacies of the Canadian workplace and job market was different from my previous professional experiences.
2) What advice would I share with other newcomers?
Leverage Support Systems: Take advantage of the support systems in place. Government programs, community organizations, and mentorship initiatives are invaluable resources. They not only provide guidance but also help in overcoming the challenges of relocation.
Engage in Newcomer Programs: Participate actively in newcomer programs, language classes, and bridging programs. These initiatives not only enhance language skills but also provide insights into Canadian workplace culture and help build a professional network.
Network and Seek Guidance: Building connections with fellow immigrants, Canadians, and professionals in your field is crucial. Networking can open doors to opportunities and provide valuable insights. Seeking guidance from mentors can significantly impact your journey.
Embrace Flexibility: Be open to adapting and embracing flexibility. The journey might have unexpected twists, but remaining adaptable and open-minded will help navigate challenges more effectively.
Stay Inspired: Find inspiration in the new experiences, even the challenging ones. The Canadian weather, the four stages of culture shock, and the seasonal changes may bring mixed feelings, but use them as motivation to work hard for a promising future.
3) What am I most proud of?
Overcoming Challenges: Successfully navigating the challenges of forced immigration, starting from scratch, and building a new life in Canada.
Professional Growth: Transitioning into a content creator role at Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) and gaining valuable experience in project management and remote work.
Engagement in Programs: Actively participating in programs like LYP 2022, BEMC, and Access Employment, which not only contributed to my personal and professional growth but also allowed me to contribute to the community.
Building a Support System: Establishing connections and building a support system in Canada, including friends, colleagues, and mentors, who played a crucial role in my settlement and career development.
As I approach my two-year mark, I recognize the emotional challenges of relocation and cultural adjustment. The Canadian winter, with its symbolic white snow, represents not just weather but the inspiration to overcome challenges and work towards a promising future in this welcoming country. My journey is one of resilience, growth, and a proud contribution to the diverse environment of Canada.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Humaira Habib, a journalist and women activist from Afghanistan embarked on a transformative journey to Canada in 2022. Leaving behind a career shaped by resilience and advocacy amid Afghanistan's challenges, she brings her unique perspective and unwavering spirit to her new life in Canada. Through her experiences, Humaira shares not only the trials of immigration but also the strength and determination that define her as a newcomer in her adopted homeland.