Country of Origin:
Adjusting to Life in Canada
When Salim came to Canada, his post-secondary education was not recognized. In this clip he describes the jobs that he had to do to support his family and return to school.
My name is Mohammad Salim Sindhu, I’m from Pakistan. It was 1974: The political situation in our country was not that stable. I’m a free-minded person, and I found it difficult to live under those circumstances. My sister was visiting me from Canada, who had been living here since 1968, and she suggested, “Why don’t you come to Canada?” Finally, she sponsored me, and I came with my family, with the two small children.
I’m an engineer by profession – a civil engineer – and I practiced that profession for some years in my country. Also I had been flying as my hobby. I flew a number of planes. But basically my profession was a civil engineer when I came over here. My qualification was not recognized, and I had a great difficulty getting into the engineering profession. However, I made a plan for myself, and I said that I was going to beat the system, and if my qualifications from Pakistan are not accepted, well, I’ll make sure that I study over here and receive my education in Canada.
However, like any other immigrant I had to do survival jobs to feed my family and meet other expenses. I worked as a labourer in a factory, and also I worked in one of the fast food outlets as a waiter. A number of small jobs. But in 1975 – that’s after one year – I joined the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in an engineering course. It was a certificate course that was for nine months. After completion of that course, some doors opened for me, and I started working as just a basic engineer in the industry.
I continued my education and the job as well, and then in the next seven to eight years, I went to other different courses at SAIT, and finally I got my post-graduate diploma in energy management from the University of London.
It was a big struggle for me to make a living. Also to continue my education. It was a very hard time. But I never looked back. I always talked to myself and said, “No, I have to become successful in this country.” I owe to this country as well, because when I came I did get a lot of help from Canadians, from my friends, and from the society as a whole.
I am very well established now. I’m a writer as well. I write a number of articles in the Calgary Herald about immigrant professionals. I’m a public speaker, and I am invited to a number of places, especially on motivation. I worked a lot for the community, and in recognition of my service to the community since 1984, I was awarded the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in March of 2003.