Immigrant snapshots: Meet some newcomers to Canada

November 16, 2016

By CBC News |

A trade show for new immigrants that has been making stops across Canada arrived in Vancouver on Wednesday.

Newcomers to the country milled around the Career, Education and Settlement Immigrant Fair a the Vancouver Convention Centre, stopping at booths, learning about opportunities and networking with other attendees.

Dr. Gurdeep Parhar with the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine was the keynote speaker. He discussed overcoming stereotypes to thrive in Canada.

“The job market is such that, I think, most industries right now, it’s hard to get a job,” said Parhar. “It doesn’t matter whether you were born and raised in Canada versus somebody that came more recently. Then if you add to that some sort of language barrier or other challenges, I think it is more difficult, for certain.”

“We all racially stereotype and we do it subconsciously. The most important thing is to … bring it out front and deal with it,” he said.

Meet some of the people from various countries who dropped by the fair:


Sayed Shajjan, 30, left his family, including 10 siblings, in Kabul, Afghanistan. He worked there in a government agency, but moved to find a safer life where the threat of bombs and fighting in the streets aren’t a constant reminder of decades of war.

“For me, it is difficult, you know, to leave my family back at home in Afghanistan and live alone with myself. I have never lived alone, so it’s something a little bit stressful. But I’m sure I can overcome,” he said.

“I think yesterday there was a blast in Kabul city, so I was just worried, texting my brother and my family saying, ‘All you safe?’ Some of the times you don’t get a reply back soon, so you’re very stressful.”

Shajjan arrived in February and said the most challenging thing is integrating with Canadian society.

“Normally in Afghanistan we don’t smile, and in Vancouver when you look at somebody, you just get a smile passed at you,” he said.

He’s now looking for any sort of job, and considering going back to school to kick off a new career.

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