As Canada celebrates 150 years as a unified nation this week, I think about how our country has changed over this time period. As an immigrant to Canada myself, I can’t help but feel pride for the rich, diverse population of our country and the opportunities offered to immigrants by the Canadian government. First and foremost, I am very thankful for our First Nations fathers and mothers who paved the way for me and millions of others to make Canada a home. Modern Canada has been built and shaped by all of the people who have immigrated here, beginning with the French settlers through to the Canadians today who have come from countries all over the world. According to the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), approximately 6,775,800 inhabitants were born outside the country. This equates to 1 person in 5, or 20.6 per cent of the total population of Canada.
I immigrated to Canada from war-torn Sri Lanka in 1986. When I arrived, I knew no one, and I needed a job. St. Peter’s Seminary offered me a bed to sleep in, and while I was there they introduced me to the CEO of a software company. That introduction and the chance he gave me changed my life: I have now been working in technology for over 30 years. After some time as the Chief Technology Office of the City of London, I started my own technology and innovation company, INVORG.
Now, I am in a position to help other immigrants like myself who have come to Canada with a dream to build a life. At my company, I hire people who are passionate about helping themselves, their families and wider community: immigrants, the disabled, students, and unemployed or underemployed people. I want to give others the same chance that I was given. We hire people based more on their alignment with INVORG’s values than just technical competency.
Canada is recognized today as one of the most open immigration countries in the world. Our country welcomes refugees and immigrants like me from all over the world and gives us opportunities to thrive and build this country. I salute the leaders of this country who had a vision to create a Canada of today. The charter of freedom and responsibilities paved the way for each and every one of us to feel equal in the eyes of the law. Not only has this helped to create one of the best countries in the world, it has also provided my family and I the opportunities we wouldn't have received in other places. I am proud to say that my family contribute back to this country every chance we get.
Immigrants are the past, present, and future of Canada. For me, my original country is my motherland. My love and affection for my motherland will never diminish, but now I hold a greater a love for my home country, Canada.
That we became a unified nation one hundred and fifty years ago is a milestone to celebrate. But this Canada Day, I’ll also be celebrating the unified nation of Canadians from all over the world that are every single day.