Sumit Kumar’s Story – The Real Heroes: Immigrants in Canada
Welcome to our #BeAHero series, where we’ll be sharing inspirational stories from different communities of immigrants in Canada.
If I can inspire people with my story, why not?
These are the motivating words of Sumit Kumar, Remitbee’s first #BeAHero story, who agreed to share his learnings of immigration to Canada, his job search here and sending money to India for his parents.
Where Are You from and Why Did You Come to Canada?
I was born & raised in Chandigarh, India, and I graduated in mechanical engineering. I had a great job, home & supportive local community in India. Following my brother, who came to Canada for studies, I decided to migrate to Winnipeg, Canada in 2015.
My mom was a bit hesitant to let me come to Canada. Everyone comes to Canada with a dream, to reach goals and I told my mom about these and reassured her I’d be back after having a good time in Canada.
When Did You Come to Canada?
I finally moved to Canada in October 2015. I was leaving a very respectable and promising career in India to start from scratch in Canada. It’s a big move, not an easy thing. Many people, especially those in India think it’s easy because when we come back to India to visit we share our success.
Where Did You Settle in Canada and What Were Those First Few Days Like?
I will never forget those first days. It was October and starting to be wintery in Winnipeg; my brother was studying here and I could connect with him by living nearby. It would also be more economical to live close to my brother.
When I told people I was moving to Winnipeg they would always respond “are you crazy?!” because people here call it a village. I visited Toronto recently which is a very big city in comparison.
Also, the snow! There is a lot of snow in Winnipeg. After 3 years I am now not bothered by the snow so much, but it was a big change when I first arrived.
How was your first feel about Canada?
My first feeling was that Canada is scary because when you come to a new country you don’t know anything. Not even the road signs. The traffic here is so fast compared to India, everyone follows the limit exactly whereas in India some people are faster, and some are slower.
The first month was confusing. I didn’t know the streets, where to go or where to get the bus from. I bought my first car after 3 months in Canada, before that I used the bus as it took a while to get my driving license.
Did You Apply for Jobs?
At this time, I would apply for 10 to 20 jobs per day and get no response at all. I was getting disheartened. My brother was still a student at the time so could only work part-time at McDonalds – so eventually I worked there on night shifts, even though that is not why I moved to Canada. When you move to a new country, sometimes you must take these survival jobs, especially when you can’t get the job you want initially and need to pay the bills/support your family back home by a remit to India.
I worked there for 2 months. People had recommended that I try the Winnipeg Settlement Services for help finding work, but I just replied that I had read all the info they provide and I have my brother for support – I felt I didn’t need their help.
But then I started finding jobs where they would only accept applicants through a Settlement Services. I discovered that the Settlement Services had a recruitment center where they have guides to help you get jobs. So, I joined the group and took classes for a week, then was assigned a guide who got me 1 or 2 interviews. At this point, there were more jobs offers coming from Vancouver, but they were not happy to interview me over the phone.
So, I packed my bags and was ready to move to Vancouver. On the day I was about to leave, I get a call about a 6-month assignment with a company engineering for one of the biggest hospitals in Canada. So, I stayed in Winnipeg.
Balancing Work and Personal Life
I learned that there are so many jobs that are accessible to you once you have your first contract, so I was not worried once the 6 months were up. I also had a back-up job as a pizza delivery guy to do between longer engineering contracts – during this time (January 2017) I also traveled back to India for the first time and got married. This meant sacrificing a job I had always wanted in Canada, but sometimes in life, you must make hard decisions. I chose to get married as that’s a once in a lifetime thing, and I knew I could come back to Canada and get another job later.
I came back to Canada 3 months later in April 2017. I needed to have a job here so that my wife could apply to come live with me too. 4 months later and I had the funds to buy my first house for my new family.
Sumit’s Job Searching Tip: never lose hope, keep an open mind, don’t panic if you have to start from a lower rank because your skills will grow and you will have the chance to move up. Don’t be stubborn, be adaptive and don’t just sit at home!
How Important Was Community and Networking for You?
This is one of the most important things you need in Canada. It doesn’t mean that networking alone can get you a job, but it certainly plays a part. It shows you are integrated in Canada, you know people and you know the culture. It shows you are not an outsider. Connecting with people is important for a career in Canada.
How Important is Family Support When Immigrating to Canada?
My mother was very emotional when I was here and after 3 weeks, I was feeling like I wanted to go back to India. But my dad motivated me to stay in Canada and believed that I could successfully make a life there.
People should know that at some point on your journey as an immigrant, you will be crying. The support from my family made me fight against the odds..
How Important Was It for You to Stay Connected to Your Parents Back Home?
In the beginning, I called my parents every day. Talking to them about everything stopped me feeling depressed.
My wife also gave me a lot of motivation and support, even when I told her that I missed out on my dream job so I could go back to India and marry her. Now she lives with me in Canada and every time I get a good job, she tells me that I got the job because I went back to marry her!
How Do You Fulfil Your Duties to Support Your Family in India?
Now that I have a wife, family, and house to support in Canada, I get less time to talk to my parents but I still try to talk to them as often as I can. I support them financially too, through good times and bad. I like to fast remit to India before they have to ask for money – because my dad will never ask for it, even when in need. Recently, I bought them a house in India.
It is very important to send money back home to any family member. As the breadwinner, I have the responsibility to make sure my family doesn’t need to ask for anything – the money should already be there.
Being able to send money to my family’s bank accounts quickly is very important too. I don’t have the time to wait days for cheques and banks to move the money. So, I use Remitbee where I usually only have to wait 4 hours. It is insanely fast.
If we can not be there in person for our families, we can at least make sure they have everything they need with our money.
Do You Have Any Message for Your Mom & Dad?
Maybe I am far away from you, but my affection, my love, my worries about you will always be there. Maybe I cannot be there every time for you, but you are in my heart every minute.
Spending time with my parents and making them happy is more important than just typing it on social media. My way of showing love is different – every day is Mother’s & Father’s Day.
Rapid Fire Round!
We threw random words at Sumit and asked him to say the first thing that came to mind.
Justin Trudeau – Young minister.
Snow – Bright.
Diversity in Canada – An example for peace.
Job Search – Always a nightmare!
Canada – Beautiful country, beautiful people.
Hero – Dad
When You Chose a Remittance Company, Why Did You Choose Remitbee?
The first time I read about Remitbee, I was remitting money through my bank but I was tired of running to get to the bank before it closed. I discovered Remitbee online but at first, I was unsure and untrusting of online companies.
So, I read some reviews from customers and asked the opinion of other immigrants in online groups I am a member of. They all said that Remitbee could be trusted and that they used it all the time. I signed up for Remitbee shortly after.
Setting up Remitbee and creating a profile took a little time, but after that, I was surprised at how quick and easy it is. It was quicker than one of your competitors! I also love that I can save money with free transfers via the My Wallet option. I would give Remitbee 10/10 for the exchange rate.
How Was Customer Service?
Very prompt, very professional, whenever I have called they have spoken to me as if I’m standing in a store talking to them.
Would You Recommend Remitbee to Your Friends and Family?
I already do that. I explain the whole process and show them how to do it.
My message to new immigrants who are reading this is: don’t only focus on Toronto as a destination. Don’t be scared of snow or smaller cities, because these places are great and have opportunities too.
We feel that Sumit is a hero. He’s an excellent example of perseverance and persistence. He is a hero for his mom and dad, for everybody he is connected with. His heroic story is very inspirational, and we loved hearing it! #BeAHero
Join the conversation. Share your Heroic story. Comment below which loved one (e.g. parents/aunt) you’re a Hero to and why you send money. Or simply share which part of Sumit’s story you resonated. Use #BeAHero.