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by Sumeet Dhami and Nandika Ravi

“It will be a challenge, but don’t give up”

In the eighth and final part of our exclusive series The Canadian Dream, we spoke to two Canadians immigrants who came to this country as international students over a decade ago. They share their inspirational and uplifting stories of how they established themselves in Canada.

Vikramjit Singh Butter who works as an Operations Supervisor at Canada Post, lives with his wife and three young children in a quaint home in downtown Brampton. Butter came to Canada on a study permit 15 years ago, at a time when there were fewer international students in Ontario. Born and raised in Punjab, the former engineer started his journey studying at Centennial College where he vividly remembers going through an orientation session that kicked off his transition into his new western world.

“I remember we gathered in the student centre to watch a tutorial video on what things to keep in mind when sharing an elevator with someone. Adaptability and learning the culture of a new place is very important.”

“It showed that we should get into lines. Back in India, we rarely queued up in lines not even at a bus station. There were small challenges in having to learn Canadian culture,” said Buttar.

Vikramjit Singh Butter and his family| Picture provided to OMNI News

When Buttar he arrived in 2006, most of his peers were a lot older than the international students arriving in Canada now. He shares that a decade ago, it was common for his classmates to come to Canada in their mid-twenties, after completing a bachelors degree in India. Whereas now, he says he sees the majority of Indian students in Peel region being in their late-teens, fresh out of high school. Seeing constant news of international students losing their lives due to mental health, accidental drowning, or drug related battles troubles him.

Working for Canada’s primary postal operator, Vikramjit Butter feels proud of the his career  and the life he has built in Canada, with his family. Although his immigrant journey was turbulent, Buttar feels it’s one that’s attainable for anyone who’s willing to work hard.

International student to an MPP in a decade:

Representing the Brampton West region in Queens Park, MPP Amarjot Sandhu arrived in Canada in 2008 as an international student from Punjab, India. He says he had a keen interest in politics while he was a student, and focused on this goal, while studying at George Brown College.

“ A group of friends and I created an International Students Federation. The motive was to help other international students find a job, a home, and have a support system.”

MPP Amarjot Sandhu (far right) as a volunteer for the Conservative Party| Photo provided

“We would pickup newcomer students from the airport,  help them find a place to rent, and support them in finding a job. We wanted new international students to feel like they were a part of the community here”.

After volunteering and canvassing for the Conservative Party for many years, MPP Sandhu was elected to represent the riding of Brampton West in June 2018. According to MPP Sandhu, agrees that international students go through hardships every single day and hopes that through his work, he can make a difference where it’s needed.

“The sky’s the limit. With hard work you can achieve any height, where it be politics, business, or any other job. This country will give you any opportunity”.

 

As the first international student to be elected as a representative to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, MPP Sandhu’s said that Canada is the best country in the world for immigrants right now.