Selina Ahmed is a single mother of two living in the outskirts of Toronto, a massive hub of multicultural identities and cultures. Like her other family members currently living in Toronto, she had decided to immigrate to Canada from Bangladesh. When Selina was married to a Canadian immigrant at least a decade ago, all she could think of was the wonderful life she would finally live. She had heard from her sisters, who were married to other Bangladeshi-turned-Canadians, that everything was possible in Canada, not to mention free education for one's children, free medical and a world filled with modern technology. Sitting in Khulna, it seemed to Selina that in Canada, one would only need to press a switchboard filled with buttons, like the mere wave of a magical wand, to get all the back-breaking work done.
She got her first whiff of reality in the first few months after she entered the country. Everything was not as easy as she had thought it would be. Due to lack of skills and experience she could not get into any workplace that she wanted to, in spite of having a Master's degree in Psychology from Khulna, she had a lot of problems communicating with people because she did not know English and after she got separated from her husband, she and her two children, now have to depend on the Child's Benefit allowance and a partial welfare allowance that she receives from the government. After finishing her part time work in a nearby school and looking after her children, she hardly has any time left to pursue the dreams that she had once upon a time, before she came to Canada.
Stories like the above are very common in Canada, especially amongst those who tend to think life will magically change for the better, once you are Canadian and live in Canada. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury was 31 years old when he and his wife moved to Toronto and wanted to begin a new life. After almost seven years, while his wife sells traditional food and clothes that she makes in various Meena Bazaars and also on special days like birthdays, Diwali and Eid, Rezaul had drifted from one place to another, looking for the 'right' job that an engineer like him deserved, but in vain.
Very often, it is seen that most Bangladeshis who immigrate to Canada or any other foreign country, do so with an intention to escape the problems in his or her own country. 26-year-old Romel's next step after completing his BBA is to take courses on IELTS, an English proficiency exam which is a requirement in countries like Canada, Australia and countries in the United Kingdom as well so that he can immigrate to Canada. “I have tried to get work here in Dhaka but life is too difficult and unpredictable here,” says Romel. Romel also adds that constant pressure from his parents led him to take this decision. “I have to do something with my life, if not here then elsewhere.”
One of the major reasons as to why most immigrants are caught off guard once they enter the land of their dreams, is simply because they do not do enough research before they decide to settle down in Canada or in any foreign country for that matter.
Dr. Md. Jamilur Rahim
According to Dr. Md. Jamilur Rahim, a Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant, CCIC, researching Canada is an extremely easy task today as compared to what it was even a decade ago. “You have all the answers online,” he says. “It surprises me how even the young clients that I get today are not aware of how resourceful the Internet is today.” Dr. Jamil, as he is referred to by all his clients, a Full Member of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants is also the president and the CEO of Scotia Consultants, a consultancy firm for prospective immigrants to Canada.
There are consultants everywhere today, including Bangladeshis returning from Canada who claim to be 'lawyers', extracting large sums of money from those who seek a shortcut-ticket to Canada. “Only certified consultants, who have to give a series of exams, and actual Canadian lawyers are authorised to give legal advice to those who want to apply for a citizenship,” explains Dr. Jamil. “In fact, one can even go online and verify the list of certified consultants. That way, not just anyone can claim to be a 'consultant' or a 'lawyer' and trick people into paying them outrageous sums. They would have to be authorised with the Canadian Government, which anybody can verify online.”
In the mid-90s hordes of people have been applying for the Canadian Immigration. However, only a few were being selected by the government based on their occupations. “Last February, the Canadian Government issued a list of 38 occupations and skills which are needed in Canada right now,” says Dr. Jamil. “Anyone who belongs in this list will be accepted as soon as an application is made.” This list can be found online.
Dr. Jamil himself was a fresh MBBS graduate when he had decided to immigrate to Canada. His wife had also graduated from BUET as an Engineer. “My friends had come to pick us up in Toronto, the first time when my wife and I had landed,” he says. “They had all the negative stories in stock for us. They could not understand why a doctor and an engineer would waste a promising future in Bangladesh and prepare to slog in Canada.” Dr. Jamil, however, decided to work hard, deflate his 'deshi' ego and finally became a part of a very small percentage of Bangladeshis who are truly successful in Canada.
Dr. Jamil has a list of pointers that he shares with his clients. “Firstly, finish your basic education in our native country,” he says. “Basic education is defined as an Honour's degree or an undergraduate degree. Also, basic work experience is very helpful as well. Nowadays, many students are working along with studying in their respective colleges and universities, which is a good sign. Secondly, check the list of 38 occupations which are currently being accepted by the Canadian Government. If you can get experience in any of these particular fields for at least a year or two, that would guarantee your immigration for sure. The next step is to sharpen your language skills. Prepare for the IELTS. Basic courses in French would help as well.” After getting the immigration, most people immediately move to Canada. “Don't do that!” says Dr. Jamil. “You have one year to enter Canada, so that gives you enough time. Spend the next two three months researching online, for example your job prospects. Finally after reaching Canada, look for an off-track job, popularly known as an 'odd job' and get into an educational institution for higher studies.” Dr. Jamil stresses on going to school no matter how old one gets, because not only does it give one a chance to explore the Canadian education field, the immigrants will also get a loan from the government. “This loan is enough to run a whole family modestly,” says Dr. Jamil. “You would have to pay it back only after you finish your studies and get a job.”
Most importantly, according to Dr. Jamil, getting immigration to Canada should not be a reason to end ties with your roots in Bangladesh. “Rather this should strengthen your ties with your country,” he says. With an office in New York, Malaysia and Dhaka, Dr. Jamil spends most of his time in Scotia Consultants located in Dhanmondi, Dhaka. “One of the most important things that you need to survive, not only as an immigrant in Canada, but also as a successful human being anywhere in the world, is confidence,” says Dr. Jamil. “Confidence, honesty and a loyalty to your own roots and identity are the keys to success.”
Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2009
February 13, 2009