Country of Origin:
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Ashoke decided to come to Canada after falling in love with a Canadian in Nepal. He had a career in India and Nepal, before coming to Canada. Ashoke mentions how surprising it is for him to see organizations without any persons of colour on staff as well.
My name is Ashoke Dasgupta. I was born to a middle-class family in India, and I now live in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After studying mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester, my father had returned to India to do something for his country. I tried to follow in his footsteps after completing a Masters of Business Administration degree from Marquette University, Milwaukee, in 1973.
In India, I worked as a personnel management trainee in a tobacco multinational that was in southern India. Later I worked as a sales management trainee in a non-ferrous metal multinational in eastern India but had a bad run, migrating to Nepal in 1993. There I tried my hand as copy editor of the independent in Katmandu. Two events occurred in 1995, which will always stand out on the horizon of my memory. The first was that I won a UNDP Goethe Institute award for environmental journalism. The second was that I had proposed to a Canadian. She accepted, and we married that July. She was a second-generation Canadian whose grandparents immigrated to Canada from Denmark. We were very happy in Katmandu, where she was conducting business. We agreed that whoever got a better job; the other would re-locate to that city as well. In January 1997, she took up assignment as the Executive Director of a NGO headquartered in Winnipeg. Consequently, I applied for immigration, got a visa, and arrived in Winnipeg on Boxing Day, 1997.
Many thoughts passed through my mind as we flew on, mainly about the role of chance in our lives and the strangeness of a destiny that was taking me back to North America. In February 1998, I started working at a call centre, since the dailies in Winnipeg said they weren't hiring. Mr. Nicholas Hurst, then editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, said to me, "I know immigrants find it difficult to get back to their former profession after immigration, since we've been writing about it. So I will help you. You can contribute as a freelance, but remember: it is by your own writing that you live or die at the Free Press." I'm grateful to him and his colleagues for the opportunity, and hope I proved my ability by winning the 2004 First Prize in the features/news category from the Canadian Ethnic Journalists and Writers Club.
However, in the years that have passed I have remained in call centres, doing opinion polls, customer service and marketing research, while making contributions to the Winnipeg Free Press, CBC Radio, and elsewhere. I find it odd that many organizations in Winnipeg haven't had a single coloured person working for them since my arrival in 1997. When these organizations advertise vacancies, my applications apparently don't even warrant an interview, despite having Canadian experience.