Samiya Mirza and her family find warmth in Edmonton

Credit to Author: Nazreena Anwar-Travas| Date: Wed, 04 Sep 2019 15:39:54 +0000

Samiya initially came to Canada as a student to study biomedical engineering and returned to India in 2010. Little did she know that three years later, she would return to Canada again — but as a newly married woman with an eight month-old baby.

“Everyone felt that since I have already been in Canada, things would be easier for me. But life as a student is totally different from that of an immigrant! As a student, I was geared for a temporary life in Canada, but as the wife of an immigrant, I knew this is where I had to stay forever.”  So why was it so difficult? “Firstly, I was homesick,” she laughs. “I missed my parents and the life back in India!”

Samiya is not the first immigrant from the Indian subcontinent to feel this way. “Back home, I was so used to having a chauffeur, a maid and even someone to iron my clothes. Here, one needs to be very affluent to be able to afford such things and I must say it took me a while before I adjusted to the ‘do it (all) yourself’ life that lay ahead for me.”

The learning curve

The long winter months appalled her.  Climate shock is something that most immigrants face as they seek to bring the ‘warmth’ to the extended days of chilly darkness. And the Mirzas did just that.   “I am so glad we developed a good friends circle. If it wasn’t for the warmth of friendship, I would have definitely died of boredom! We visited each others’ homes, hosted dinner parties and then winter didn’t seem so bad. Just embrace winter and winter embraces you!” However, the thought of driving in snow still terrified Samiya who carpooled most of the time. “I needed to learn to drive. It was a learning curve; it was hard no doubt, but doable,” says Samiya who now drives confidently in all seasons.

The young mother of three is full of praise for the caring nature of Canadians. “My neighbours, the daycare staff…yes, everyone is so helpful. Canada is truly culture tolerant. Everyone made me feel so welcome in a new country.”  Samiya emphasizes on the need to socialize with one and all and build a strong network of friends and connections. “References and recommendations play a big role in getting a good job. Its important to build connections.”

Today, the Mirzas are happy both professionally and personally. Samiya is now working as a plant disease diagnostician. Her husband, Tariq Mirza works in the field of information technology. They both aspire of moving to greater heights within the organizations they currently work for.

Reflecting on the journey

Samiya often reflects on how her life was linked to Canada in more than one way — first as a student and then as a permanent resident.  There was a time when Samiya had never imagined living in a country which had snowfall. On the other hand, her daughter Mariyam, now a vibrant seven-year-old, cannot imagine a country without snow. Her daughter’s first trip to India was full of surprises. “My cousins don’t know what snow is,” she smiles. “I think I am lucky. Canada has so much snow that I wish I can send them some!”

The Mirzas are glad they chose to immigrate to Canada, and that they made Edmonton their home. They love the quality of life, and the stability and security Canada had to offer.  Tariq, who travels extensively for work, feels secure in his neighborhood and has no fear in leaving his family behind when he needs to embark on one of his business trips.
The Mirzas’ advice to  newcomers is to be prepared to work hard and embrace what Canada has to offer including the new experiences, climate and the Canadian lifestyle.