1. What brought you to Leeds and Grenville/Canada?
A few years ago, I realized my calling and decided to pursue a career in mental wellness and addiction work. St. Lawrence College seemed to be an excellent institution to complete my post-secondary studies in terms of education standards, placement opportunities, and the cost of tuition. The program is only offered at the Brockville campus, which brought me to this area.
2. What was your transition from moving to Canada/Leeds and Grenville like?
My transition moving to Brockville was smooth. I instantly fell in love with the St. Lawrence River, the happy welcoming locals, and the strong sense of community. I was fortunate to be connected with the tight-knit local Pakistani immigrant community who shared information, meals, furniture, and a sense of home.
3. Are there any recent changes or transitions you’ve gone through that you’d like to share?
This year has been full of changes and transitions for me. I finished my two-year program at St. Lawrence College and will graduate this June. I began working my first full-time Canadian job at the Employment and Education Centre. I also signed a lease to rent my very own apartment. I could not be more grateful.
4. What do you think this area could change to be better for newcomers?
Many newcomers begin their journeys in a new country without access to a personal vehicle. I think it would benefit newcomers greatly if Brockville made improvements to make the city more walkable, cyclable, and transit-friendly.
5. What would you change about your life/this area/anything if you could?
Honestly, I would love for Brockville to have more safe and accessible places to enjoy live music and go dancing!
6. Did anyone help you while you were transitioning to Leeds and Grenville/Canada?
I received help from the lovely international student advisor at the college, my professors, the local immigrant community, fellow international students, and new friends.
7. What was the hardest thing about coming to Leeds and Grenville/Canada?
I grew up in a city of approximately 1 million residents. One of the hardest things to adjust to in this area is the small number of people one sees and hears daily. Also, Islamabad, where I was born and raised, is located by the foothills of the Himalayas, and we have access to numerous gorgeous trails. I deeply miss the mountains and being able to hike spontaneously.
8. What do you think is most important for people to know/think about when working/connecting with immigrants?
The life of a newcomer is not easy. An immigrant you know could be experiencing housing/food insecurity, homesickness, loneliness, language barriers, racism, difficulty finding employment, and making ends meet. We are now hearing about international students becoming victims of various scams and human trafficking. When working and connecting with newcomers, I hope people consider this and embody compassion, love, patience, and understanding while investing time to learn how to help immigrants, support their well-being, and protect those who are vulnerable.
9. What supports do you know about that can help newcomers in this area?
The Employment and Education Centre provides specialized services to meet the employment/education needs of newcomers. In addition, St. Lawrence College is doing a great job of helping our international students settle and thrive in the community.