Canadian Boy
Portrait of a boy with the flag of Canada painted on his face

Source: istock

It takes 15 men nearly six months to create a single katana sword. An ore which turns into a sword by travelling through many processes from begins at 2500°F to smelt steel, dissolve carbon, removing impurities, forging, coating, curving, polishing and adding final touches.

My journey has more or less been the same if not more challenging, my father’s employment brought entire family to start our life in suburbs of New Delhi. Being born in a nuclear middle class family in northern India had its own challenges, with fathers untimely demise in 1994 changed a lot of things or I would say started shaping my start of a journey for a higher purpose. Single widowed mother took it as a challenge to raise me and my older sister with values, ethics and honor.

She is the real HERO, I would love to write about her journey of sacrifices to fame in a male dominant society in my future blogs.

With the time flying by and years passing, life for me was to achieve something big and make efforts count. I saw myself leaving house at age of 17 to pursue higher education in New Delhi, where I spent 3 years of university working for Americans at night and attending classes during day time to fund my own education. It came at cost of not having a regular college life but no complains since I had 3 years of work experience at age of 20 with a Bachelors in Commerce, allowing me to gain an edge over the competition of million unemployed graduates struggling to start a career or finding a career.

I think the credit goes to the HERO/Coach my mom the way she trained us to think differently and have a plan and toil with perseverance until we reach a landmark, further creating that landmark as a benchmark to set bigger life goals. As my career progressed, I was gaining more life and work experiences. Say it adrenaline to yearn for something bigger I managed to finish my MBA in Marketing and Communications; 2nd MBA in International Contract Management and Negotiations while still working in varied industries.

Life seemed to be great at age of 24 I was earning in 6 figures per month (INR currency) being able to help mom arrange funds for sister’s marriage and paying my student loans, we had come a long way from struggling to bring bread on table in 1994.I was getting used to the drill of becoming a man. I hope my father would have been proud to see from heaven above.

Check Shiva Kumar Shunmugam’s LinkedIn Profile

Opportunities come masked as the worst adversities in life for us, this time it was my sister who got separated as her year old marriage didn’t last. She being thousands of miles away in Canada struggling to stand up on her feet from the shock, resilient like a warrior she managed to find a job as a librarian in City of Peterborough. Praying to the superior almighty and countless Skype calls to pull her through the worst times had become a routine but I knew it wasn’t enough, she was in our thoughts day and night and in my dreams it was to reach CANADA and support my sister.

shiva-girija-mom-2
Me and My Mom at New Delhi Intl’ Airport in 2012.

Source: Shiva’s Flickr

Applying to 100 job applications per day paid off with 3 Skype interview calls and fast forward 9 months I was on a flight from 21°c in New Delhi to -21°c in Edmonton on a 2 year work permit with a cache, I took a hit in my salary with my employer as I negotiated it over their assistance with immigration when I apply for my PR. I was happy as I was able to be close to my sister and support her when she took a year off to go to Humber College to pursue Human Resource Management.

Working harder for 2 years with less salary in marketing managing a $ 20 million portfolio, working on Canada’s Best Managed Companies application and winning it for my employers. I think I showed my mettle amidst politics and bureaucracy in the organization, only thing that kept me going was to be able to support family and get through with Immigration as a PR.

2015 was the worst and the best year of my life.

I originally applied for Permanent Resident (PR) under AINP (Alberta Immigrant Nomination Program) employer driven stream, with high waiting times and expiring work visa. I found myself in troubled seas as lack of proper guidance through employer and counsel I found myself in a soup of 90 days, for those of you who don’t know what it means; it’s a 3 month period in which you are not allowed to work and show legal paper to work in the country or you get to be deported.

This news crushed me after burning bridges back home and starting a life by pieces in CANADA making new friends starting to love 5 months of winters, taking bus to work in -30°c, paying my taxes in time. Why was I in this position after 3 years I now have to uproot myself from my new found home? Was it Government’s Immigration Policies? Was it my Employer? Was it fate?

These 90 days were the days I would not forget in my life as I had no source of income living hand to mouth had left me with no savings. Friends kept me positive, unlimited prayers or call it luck of my fiance. I was able to secure a new work permit for work, I needed it to keep my immigration file active.

Learning some important life lessons and a married man now, I joined my employer again to work but it seemed my testing times were not over yet. I received blow to my guts when I was told by a senior official in my company that since they are helping me with immigration they can’t pay me the rate according to my new Work Permit so I would have to pay the difference in cash out of the books to them. Not only was it unethical but illegal. I had no options but to comply since I was helpless with my PR application and immigration in works.

I was not comfortable and clearly not happy with so much uncertainty around immigration and the intent of my employer. I applied for immigration through Express Entry with help of an immigration consultant and kept it as a backup if anything goes wrong. My intuitions were right and on September 10,2015 my employer chose to get rid of me stating downturn in the economy as a reason, whereas it was a result of me exposing the dirty little secret of the senior official’s request to the payrolls and I was chosen to be the expandable one to cover up the expose.

Not again!! I was really let down by the people who I considered as my family and for whom I worked for countless hour’s overtime without any compensation. What broke my trust was them intentionally calling AINP to cancel my immigration application, it was the call from the AINP center’s case advisor who updated me on their request that help me put entire picture together. I was betrayed and felt cheated by the people who I invested in for over 3 years, this was an attempt to jeopardize my career, our family’s future and mine as a Canadian!

This was the worst and the darkest hours but I was able to cope up and recover with help of my loving wife and my family, with my hopes and dreams for Canadian PR being shattered, my duel with fate wasn’t over yet as I still had my trump card my back up plan in Express Entry.

Source: Shiva’s Flickr

I received my invitation to apply PR (ITA) in November and Halloween 2015 was a celebration in our life after 3 years as a tax paying law abiding citizen and going through roller coaster of emotions and seeing the true meaning of relationships in times of distress.

I’m happy to be a permanent resident, I take it as a well-deserved opportunity I thank all my friends, family and my wife to have believed in me and to provide me with strength and courage to go through this experience.

“My Journey Begins Here!”

6 months from becoming a PR, I now work with the Government and in my spare time as an Ambassador to InterNations Edmonton Expatriate Community I help newcomers settle in Edmonton and try to help guide anyone who is going through tough times in their journey as an immigrant to be a part of this beautiful country of diverse cultures and great talents.

internations-edmonton-ambassador-shiva-2

13 Comments

  1. Very nice Shiva. Your experiences have certainly shaped you into the fine upstanding man I know. Thanks to your father’s foundation and your mom’s guidance you’ve made it work. As a country we are fortunate to have you here. And I am so proud of your work. I’m proud of you.

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  2. Shiva, you are a good man. Your mother and you father (from above), must be so proud of you. It is a honor to know you and I’m so glad you are sharing your journey with others.

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    1. It is wonderful that you keep pushing as a self-made man. Each challenge builds character. You are handling each well showing that the character you already possess is indominable. Keep forging ahead. Congrats to both you and that “engineer of a wife” you have.

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      1. Thank you Jeff, you are the Can-Indian family I have from day 1 and couldn’t have been more blessed to have you around to be there to listen and provide clarity. Thanks for having faith in me and believing in me..

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  3. Very well written, Shiva. Your post is an inspiration to many people that are trying to negotiate their way under similar circumstances.

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    1. Thank you @Miss Jones It’s the best in people and circumstances that makes me yearn for the best..I’m willing to make and take that extra effort to be a part of positive change in some people’s lives.. I want my life to be meaningful by trying to help someone by guiding someone going through a tough time.

      Liked by 1 person

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