Stories of Learning and Hope

A journey to citizenship – Citizenship Week 2023

This Citizenship Week read this powerful story from ‘Arun’, a former client of ISSofBC, that highlights the reasons why he came to Canada and the challenges he and his family faced once in British Columbia. His story also shows his determination to adapt, work hard, and contribute to Canadian life and society along his path to citizenship.  

The client’s name has been changed upon their request for the purposes of this article. 

If you are new to British Columbia and would like to learn more about our services, please contact our Settlement services at 


Arun is originally from South Asia. After working for many years in North Africa and the Middle East, he decided to move back with his family to his home country so he could be near his parents and friends.  

Escaping dangers at home

To his disappointment, his home country was going through its worst period of political unrest. Every other day, there would be attacks at religious centres, markets or other public gatherings, which often killed scores of people. Kidnappings and thefts were also at the highest level that he could remember. Children and families could not go safely to schools, restaurants, cinemas or even parks.  

Despite these immense difficulties, Arun continued to live there and did not want to leave until there was a bomb blast at his daughter’s school that injured many students. After the attack, Arun decided to move to Canada for the safety of his family. 

Facing new challenges in Canada 

After a long immigration process that took three years, he arrived in 2012 with his wife and three children. However, in Canada, Arun faced new challenges, despite being highly educated.  

His priority was to get a job and provide for the family. He kept applying for jobs but soon realized it was almost impossible to get employed without Canadian experience and connections. 

Eventually, he decided to forget about his original profession and diversify his career. His biggest asset was that he spoke seven languages, so Arun started volunteering as an interpreter with five non-profit organizations. In a couple of months, he was offered a casual interpretation job for Arabic, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu and Pashto languages. 

His family also faced many other challenges. The Canadian transport, banking, health and education systems were all completely to them. Arun also had to manage the cultural shock, address his children’s problems at school such as bullying and racism, look for a regular job, and find a family physician. 

Perseverance and determination  

However, Arun did not lose hope and kept working to improve his life in Canada. Finally, he succeeded in getting a temporary job as a refugee settlement worker at one of the non-profits he volunteered for.  

His children were getting acclimatized to their new Canadian environment and were much more comfortable at school. Soon, his wife got employed as well at another non-profit and their financial conditions improved.  

Aspiring for citizenship 

The goal was to become Canadian citizens because they believed no other developed country was as immigrant friendly as Canada. They knew the value of a Canadian passport, so they kept working through the process. In a couple of years, Arun got employed at one of Western Canada’s leading non-profit, and life started running smoothly.

By 2020, all five family members were fully employed and started contributing to the Canadian economy. By 2021, all of them became citizens and now consider themselves proud Canadians.  

Arun’s advice for other newcomers 

Arun advises immigrants, especially highly educated ones, to be patient and stay hopeful after arriving in Canada. They must volunteer to expand their professional circle and learn some skills needed for Canadian jobs.  

They must invest at least two years to adjust to life in Canada before deciding to leave. Once adjusted, they will realize the fairness of the system here as well as the unlimited growth opportunities and will never want to leave Canada!! 


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