“Once I started working, it did not take me long to get used to the people and the surrounding. I easily and very quickly made friends and my friends taught me a lot and helped me to where I am today," says Indra Bhan.
Raj Bhan works at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel as Director of Engineering
Indra Bhan works at the Surrey Board of Trade as Chief Operating Officer
Ritesh Bhan is an electrical engineer
Kritesh Bhan is in school and works at Cullen Diesel Power
Political unrest in Fiji was the main reason for Indra Bhan, her husband Raj and kids Ritesh and Kritesh (Kit) to migrate to Canada in September 2001. “We had three options, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. We chose Canada because my parents and my husband’s parents were already living in Canada,” shares Indra, who is a Chief Operating Officer at the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT).
On arrival, the family lived with Indra’s parents. Indra describes her first impressions of Canada as being “ cold but beautiful.” “Everything was so different from back at home.”
Like most immigrants, the Bhans faced two major challenges on moving here – dealing with the weather and finding a job. In fact, Indra states that the weather, to some extent, is still something she has difficulty dealing with. “We moved here in September, bad timing. It was very cold. I wanted to go back to Fiji. The first couple of months were difficult,” she says, recalling her initial days in the country. “I was very lucky to have my parents and my brother help us get through this difficult time. My mum prepared all our meals and took care of my boys while both Raj and I were either busy working or were in school.”
Talking about the job hunt, finding the right job was the biggest challenge for the couple. Before moving to Canada, Indra worked with Fiji Airways for 16 years in various positions. Despite the diverse work experience, she did not get any response for the jobs she applied for. She eventually started applying for any job and was called for an interview by Future Shop in Langley. “I was hired as a Customer Service Representative, but this is not what I wanted to do. I did not give up and continued my search for the right job to the extent that I was willing to work for free to gain Canadian experience,” she adds.
Indra started to volunteer for the SBOT. By this time, she had a full time job at Future Shop, was full time in school, and volunteered for the SBOT during her days off at Future Shop. Within a month into her volunteer time, she was offered a contract position at the SBOT to take minutes for the Board and Executive meetings due to her shorthand skills, and within six months, she was offered a full time position as an Admin Assistant at the organization. “Once I was hired at the SBOT, everything became easy. I worked hard and learned a lot. From the Admin Assistant position, I moved on to the Business Resource Centre Coordinator position and then promoted to Membership Services Manager. In February last year, I was appointed as the Chief Operating Officer and will be completing 15 years with the SBOT this year,” says Indra proudly.
Throughout her journey, the support of her family and friends helped Indra succeed. “Once I started working, it did not take me long to get used to the people and the surrounding. I easily and very quickly made friends and my friends taught me a lot and helped me to where I am today. My colleagues at the SBOT played a huge part in my success,” she proclaims.
Despite the hardships, the Bhans have had a very amazing and successful journey so far. Raj and Indra are running a small but a successful business as well. “Everything is in place now and extremely amazing. The future looks good,” they say.
Before concluding, Indra states that her proudest moment so far was when her son graduated from the University of British Columbia as an Electrical Engineer.
Biggest obstacle faced so far in Canada:
Finding the right job. Canadian experience is key to employers when you are seeking for a job.
Resolutions made for yourself or family:
Don’t stop, keep learning and keep moving forward. Share your knowledge and experience and support each other.
Advice for immigrants:
Get yourself known in the community. Come out, meet people and volunteer. Work hard and believe in yourself… that is your ladder to success. Canada is a wonderful country with wonderful people. They will help you and guide you to where you want to be.
Memories of your homeland:
Beautiful beaches, Fiji has the best beaches. I do miss Fiji food as well.