What brought you to Leeds and Grenville?
I was drawn into working within a smaller city/area due to the community and environment present within Leeds and Grenville, Brockville in particular. Growing up in a large city, I always looked at smaller cities as a more calm, slower pace of life and work where you can get to know the community personally.
What was your transition moving to Leeds and Grenville like?
I was born in Canada, however, both my parents are first generation immigrants to Canada. Due to this, I’ve been taught a lot about my cultural roots and traditions. My parents have made sure that my cultural roots were a big part of my upbringing through teachings, learning their language, and celebrations of traditional events such as Eid. In addition to this, having been born in Canada, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the wonderful celebrations and culture of Canada which has led me to appreciate and experience both my background, as well as, Canadian traditions, food, life and culture. I would say I proudly carry my Canadian culture and values, as well as, my cultural background taught to me by my parents. I am most definitely a mix between both cultures.
Was there anything that surprised you about this area?
Growing up in a large city like Ottawa with lots of diversity I was surprised to see how little diversity and multiculturalism there was, however, I was happy to learn that has slowly been changing. With the addition of new restaurants ranging from Thai to Indian Cuisine, to local places of worship such as the new Islamic Centre in Brockville, I believe that there is an increasing newcomer population within the Leeds and Grenville area.
What would you change about your life/this area/anything if you could?
I would like to spend more time on my hobbies, travelling, and exploring the country. I find that it can get really busy keeping up with the day to day tasks, leaving little time for hobbies and extra-curriculars; however, it is really important to keep up with the things you enjoy and the activities that give you purpose.
Have you had to change anything in your life to adjust to Leeds and Grenville?
Not really, my life has mainly remained the same.
How have you had to adapt to working in Canada?
Being born here, I’ve been blessed with the many opportunities that Canada has to offer. For both my parents, I’ve seen them work tirelessly to succeed in Canada. Both my mom and dad are well educated with post-secondary degrees and successful careers in their home country, however, after coming to Canada they had to start over. Growing up I saw my dad work long hours at two jobs to support our family, while my mother went back to school and obtained her degree while being the primary caregiver of the household. Currently, their hard work has paid off. They both have successful careers in Canada now, with my siblings and I also having graduated with post-secondary degree’s thanks to the work ethic my parents have instilled in us.
Did anyone help you while you were transitioning to Leeds and Grenville?
My colleagues have all been very helpful, with learning the job, supporting me, and providing me advice.
If you could do anything right now, what would you do?
I would like to travel more and visit more countries around the world. I have always enjoyed learning about and experiencing new cultures, learning about their local cuisine, and taking in the history which exists around the world.
What was the hardest thing about coming to Leeds and Grenville?
The biggest challenge is leaving family behind and not seeing them regularly. Being in a new country, without your family for support makes the transitions, changes, and adapting to the new culture far more challenging. For myself, I’ve been told many stories of my aunts and uncles, however, have not had many chances to see them, and build meaningful relationships with them due to the geographical challenges.
Do you have any advice for anyone planning on coming to Leeds and Grenville/Canada?
If you enjoy fresh air, being outdoors, water, and bonding with the local community, this is the place to be. Get into outdoor activities and sports such as canoeing or fishing. There are a lot of hidden gems, outdoor parks, trails and waterfront areas to discover.
What do you think is most important for people to know/think about when working/connecting with immigrants?
Creating a positive environment and atmosphere around our differences is very important. It helps with feeling welcomed and accepted. Similarly, I find that people can sometimes be hesitant to ask about your background, culture and beliefs, however, myself and most first and second generation immigrants are happy to share our stories, beliefs, and culture with others; in fact, it can even help break the ice and start a friendly relationship where you can get to know each other on a deeper level.
What supports do you know about that can help newcomers in this area?
I am not aware of any direct supports/services for newcomers to this area, however, there are welcoming communities with high newcomer population I have found within Brockville that would be helpful to lean on. For example, there’s a new Islamic Centre/Mosque which has opened up at 332 Park St, Brockville. I’ve had the opportunity to chat with some of the members who were all welcoming.