Paramisher Singh was born and raised in Punjab, India. Punjab is a state in the northwest region of India and is one of the most prosperous states. The name Punjab is made of two words Punj (Five) + Aab (Water) i.e., land of five rivers. Param was 18 years old when he immigrated to Canada in 2018 to pursue his studies as a Continuing Care Assistant at the Parkland College in Yorkton.
Param shared that the journey to Canada was relatively easy and straight forward. After completing Grade 12 in India, Param said he didn’t know what he wanted to do and didn’t really have a sense of direction. A friend of his dad, who is an immigration agent, talked to his dad about Canada and soon the plan was becoming a reality and he was applying for his study permit. “I had excellent scores for Grade 12, good scores for English Language test and this contributed to making the process smooth and easy for me,” said Param.
Param also said that the decision to go to Canada was not his decision, but a family decision and he was excited to come to Canada. Soon, he was preparing to immigrate to Canada to start his new life. The training at Parkland College was fairly easy and he managed to get over 90% in all his courses. He was staying in an apartment with two other people who become his close friends. They were both older than Param, and it really helped because of the good advice he got from them. Param shared he was young, innocent and naïve and having these two friends in the beginning of his journey made a positive impact early on. He also made friends with three Canadian girls at Parkland College where he was studying, and they introduced him to the Canadian culture and helped him navigate the uncertainty of being a new immigrant. “I also had good teachers that were very accepting of differences” mentioned Param.
When Param came to Canada, he had long hair and wore a turban. He shared that he had never experienced overt racism, but he shared that people look at him differently when he wears his turban. “People also asked me questions, such as: Do I travel on camels in India? Are there cars in India? I don’t mind people asking me questions. I think the more you look different, the more people look at you and have questions” Param shared.
While studying at Parkland College, Param started his first part-time job at Walmart. “It was just a job; it was not related to my purpose or what I really wanted to do, but I did enjoy it,” said Param. After his studies were completed in Yorkton, Param applied for a job at COR and got an interview. “I remember meeting Rory McCorriston and after my interview, he told me there will be another interview and I asked him if it was possible to do the second interview on the same day as I live in Yorkton.” Rory made a couple of calls and then he told Param that he will be able to do the second interview on the same day. “A few days later, I got a call from Rory and he informed me that I got the job,” Param shared proudly. I got ready and moved to Regina to start work at COR.
The first day in Regina did not go as planned. Param had an accident and he had no car to drive, but fortunately he was able to borrow a car from a friend. Param shared it was a very stressful time of his life. Eventually, after a few months, he was able to buy another car.
Param shared that settling in Regina was tough as he didn’t know anyone and he didn’t instantly make friends. He was renting a room in a basement and it was not a nice place. He felt depressed and moved to an apartment to live with another roommate. “My roommate is Canadian and he became my friend and to this date, he is one of my best friends” shared Param. His roommate moved out when he got married. Now Param lives with his sister, who also works at COR.
After 4 years in Regina, Param mentioned that he now feels a part of the community. He has a good circle of both Canadian and Indian friends. “I do not think it would have been that easy if I was not working at COR, with the culture of gentleness, I feel like most people at COR accept me for who I am and appreciate me. I feel that sense of belonging in the workplace and I know that it is not like that in every workplace,” said Param.
Asked if he has any regrets coming to Canada and Param said that he made the right decision for the opportunity that Canada provides. At the same time, it was not only his decision, it was a family decision for him to come to Canada. “I do wonder how life would have been if I had decided to stay in India”, mentioned Param. At the same time, change is the only thing that is constant and Param shared that he would not have been the person he is now, if he didn’t make those decisions. He shared that he is self-reliant, self-independent, financially independent and age-wise he is mature for his age and mentally strong to overcome any life challenges. “I know my family will always be there for me, but I know I can depend on myself” shared Param. He confesses that it has both pros and cons; coming here at a young age and living by yourself can make one person grow distant with family. The solitude one person lives when they immigrate alone to Canada means also getting used to being lonely and understanding personal space and healthy boundaries. “At some point, I needed to change to adapt and I could not stick to who I was, I made changes to adapt” shared Param.
Like thousands of immigrants who come to Canada for a better future and opportunities, Param was brave enough to make a decision that would change his life and also change the lives of other people he interacts with in Canada and at COR. Param shares that working at COR is living his purpose and he feels fulfilled and happy to make a difference.
Thank you Param for being you, for making a difference every day at COR, we see you and we are grateful to have you as part of our COR family.
Written by Joana Valamootoo