Stories shared by successful immigrants from UAE to Canada
Gulf News Focus spoke to a cross section of people who have migrated or are in the process of migrating to find out why they chose to move to Canada and how far they have been able to realise their dreams of a good life.
JE-ANN P. LATCHIN
Je-Ann P. Latchin, 30, from the Philippines migrated to Canada from Dubai with her parents in 2000. Though it was her parents' decision to migrate, it helped her chase her dreams of building a career in art and design and becoming an entrepreneur. After finishing her studies, she set up a design firm in the city of Mississauga.
"In the mid-nineties it was a popular move in the UAE to migrate to Canada. Some of my parents' friends had already migrated and my parents followed in their footsteps. Perhaps the biggest factor to influence their decision was that in Canada one could own properties unlike in Dubai in the nineties. It was a form of security for them compared to staying on work visas in Dubai. Additionally, it was the perfect time to migrate as I was finishing high school and getting ready to go to college."
Getting a job after migration
"My parents had friends in Canada and using their network they found jobs in their areas of experience quite easily. In fact, my father is still in the same job since he first moved here. I was also able to find a summer job immediately after we arrived in Canada."
Becoming an entrepreneur
"As soon as I finished college, I started a design/marketing firm along with my husband. Setting up a business is pretty hassle-free in Canada but maintaining it of course takes lots of efforts and hard work. The only challenge I had to overcome was the fear of the unknown. The Canadian government, however, came to our rescue. It offers entrepreneurs and new businesses professional coaching and also arranges for personal advisors, if they need any. We met advisors who helped us with our endless queries about invoicing, banking and Canadian taxation laws.
"I wanted to work for large companies immediately after launching my business, but quickly realised that I had to work my way up to them. We started working for small businesses for the first couple of years. Through word of mouth and our website, we began to get larger accounts such as Schwarzkopf Professional, Canon and LG."
Life in Canada
"Whether it's setting up a business, pursuing higher education, or starting a family, the Canadian government stands by its people. I have just had my first child and I was surprised at the kind of support the government normally gives new mums. Today, even three months after the birth of my child I still get mails about childcare and reassurance from the government that if I need support there is always a number to dial where someone can help me."
A former editor at a Dubai-based newspaper, Sunil Rao, 50, moved to Canada in 2006 after spending 17 years in the emirate. Originally from India, Rao is now the editor of South Asian Focus, a community weekly newspaper published from Brampton, Ontario. In 2009, he was rewarded for his efforts in journalism by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a citation from the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada.
"We were looking at our options to move ahead in our lives. Canada seemed a good idea and when we checked we found that we could qualify through the points system and so applied for immigration. We researched for around a couple years about living conditions in Canada and also started on weekly French lessons."
Getting a job after migration
"After landing in Canada the first job that I applied for was coincidentally the job I'm currently at. Successive rounds of interviews ran for months. When I realised that it could take some time for this particular job to come through I decided to take up the first available job that came my way. I attended a job fair and the first potential employer I spoke to offered to take me on board. So I formally entered the jobs market after three months of landing with the ‘survival' job on a factory shop floor. I continued in it for about four months before taking up my current job."
Career choices in Canada
"It can be challenging. But employment opportunities are improving for newcomers in Canada. For instance, the premier of Ontario recently pointed out that from 2014, Ontario will depend only on newcomers to fill new jobs. Hence acceptance of newcomers for mainstream jobs will surely improve. That said, most newcomers still tend to struggle, particularly through the first few months. But success here is also a function of time — one gradually eases into the mainstream and integrates better with the passage of time.
"In Canada, several professions are regulated. As a doctor or an engineer or an architect, the professional has to pass the requisite exams or match up to the criteria posted by the body regulating that industry. This can in itself be challenging, particularly for someone migrating in their late 30s or 40s, when they need to take care of their families as well. It isn't easybut is of course doable, as so many here have demonstrated.
"Canada also offers people seeking to do something different in their professional lives the opportunities to do so with remunerations that can be quite rewarding. There are several government-funded programmes run by settlement agencies and other bodies to help newcomers successfully transition to such careers."
Life in Canada
"I am attracted to the easy-going lifestyle of Canada, the very clean and breathtakingly beautiful landscape, the education options for kids and of course its people who are unfailingly friendly and courteous."
After staying in Canada for years, Laura Choueri decided to move to Dubai 17 years ago because she wanted to come back to her roots and be closer to Lebanon, the country which she left in 1975. She now runs her firm Choueri Real Estate, which she set up in Dubai in 2005, as its chief executive.
"I immigrated to Canada in the early 1980s. My family and I moved to Saudi Arabia in the mid-seventies due to the Lebanese civil war. Further education in Lebanon or Saudi Arabia was not an option then, so we decided to move to the West. There were many opportunities for us in Canada. I come from a cosmopolitan family, so Montreal was the logical choice for my family for migration, particularly since we had family there."
Becoming an entrepreneur
"I started my real estate career in Canada 32 years ago. Canada provides a wealth of opportunities to all nationalities. Besides, I believe, setting up a business is not difficult if you put your mind to it, whether your choice is Canada or elsewhere."
An Irish news editor, Oliver Mahon (36) is married to a Canadian photographer, and both are based in Dubai. Mahon applied for his immigration papers last December and the application was approved last month. They plan to move in September.
"I decided to move to Canada for a combination of reasons: high quality of life in a verdant, natural environment that is conducive to an outdoors lifestyle; good opportunities to be found in a just and tolerant society where rewards are mostly based on merit; and yes, my wife asked me to migrate."
Is it easier to obtain a Canadian passport if the spouse is Canadian?
"I don't feel that having a Canadian wife has accelerated the immigration process much. I would have to jump through the same hoops if she was my girlfriend or common law partner. However, I felt confident that I would succeed in getting the necessary paper work [more easily] than if I were applying as an economic migrant or refugee."
Job opportunities in Canada
"I think Canada is like most Western countries in terms of job opportunities for immigrants. But if one keeps his eyes open, chases every opportunity and has the ability to sell himself, he should land a good job as Canadians are very open to foreigners."
Things to do in Canada
"I intend to buy property and start my own business. I will also employ the services of a good accountant so as to avoid paying taxes in Canada. In return I'll uphold my end of the great social bargain and will not seek benefits from welfare programmes."
Bobby Bagga migrated to Canada with his parents at the age of one from India. He is recognised worldwide for his achievements in the barter exchange and trade industry. He established his first company in Toronto at the age of 22. Since then he has established a number of trade networks. Bagga co-founded the barter consultancy BizXchange in Dubai in 2002. He lives in the US and divides his time between Canada, the UAE and the US.
Becoming an entrepreneur
"Canada is a very immigrant-friendly and entrepreneurial country. I started my company, Barter Business Exchange, in Canada with less than $10,000 in capital. Initially it was difficult to get people to understand and believe in the concept of barter trade. Later on it grew quite rapidly and it was one of Canada's fastest-growing companies."
Starting a business in the UAE
"As our business grew we were looking for an international hub and the UAE perfectly fitted the bill. It is also a very entrepreneurial country with sound infrastructure.http://gulfnews.com/gn-focus/canada/welcome-to-canada-1.862572