Archive | January, 2012

Re-designing Lives with Hypnosis: Sanjay Burman

Posted on 26 January 2012 by admin

If there ever was a contest on interesting and versatile career graphs, Sanjay Burman would definitely be a top contender. As someone who “sold” his high school to Pepsi, apprenticed at the Toronto Film Festival at 14 and produced his first national show on the CBC at 16, he came to know the world of communications and people rather early on. And even though he completely changed tack in 2003 to learn hypnotherapy and subsequently become a practitioner of the same, he still remains in the area of communications and human interaction. Burman specializes in treating addictive behaviour and offers regression therapy at his clinic. He also owns BurmanBooks.Inc, which he launched in 2004.

Generation Next had an opportunity to interview this dynamic healer-entrepreneur.

GN: Tell us more about the story of you selling your high school to Pepsi? What happened there?

Well, I was the President of the student’s association and I guess you can say I got bored in school very quickly, and I saw a man coming in with a suit and followed him to the office. He had an envelope with Pepsi on it and left it for the Principal, and I got hold of it and it said they wanted to put Pepsi machines inside the school.

I called them and said I have the right to negotiate this, and they agreed to the terms I proposed. I also said “We’ll have posters in the girl’s and boy’s washrooms and we want ten thousand dollars for that. And they agreed. And I said we want to have new computers with a Pepsi logo and they agreed. Every time I asked for more, they would keep saying yes. Finally I said “We want a Pizza Hut and a cafeteria and all, and they agreed! And it turned out to be a $1.2 million deal.

 

GN: You have had diverse career roles in your life so far. One can see change is the only constant with you. Does that mean you thrive on change or are you content where you are now?

I think you have to change. Especially right now, it’s a scary time—a lot of people are out of work and a lot of people are scared about the future. I think I am given too much credit for change because it’s actually my team that will push me to change. Once we are forced to make the change, I go crazy and continue forward. But I, like everybody else, am a little hesitant to change, and that’s the problem with human behaviour. Even cockroaches are better than humans and dinosaurs because they adapt so quickly to change. And if we were to do that, we would thrive. No matter what your environment was, you could always do really well.

GN: What have been some of your biggest lessons from all the different fields you have worked in? Can you specify which field taught you what?

I think the biggest thing I have learned is that you don’t know anything. So if you start off a conversation saying “I know,” “I know,” “I know,” you are going to look like an idiot. The best thing is to listen. In publishing, I learned that there are always opportunities. You are beginning to see in the papers and in the media that less people are buying books and some people are downloading now. There are always opportunities within that. You just have to keep your mind and your eyes open. In making movies, nothing ever goes according to plan—every movie, every TV show starts off the same way, then changes slightly. So never think that because you’ve done it a hundred times, it’s going to be the same every time. Every time, it will be somewhat different.

GN: Your present vocation—hypnotherapy is very different from everything else you have done before. How did you come to it?

I had left the movie industry for a while. I was disheartened with what I saw and what I was becoming. Literally two days later I met with a woman who started talking to me and said “I want you to learn something,” and I had no idea what it was. But she said, “You’re unemployed anyway,” and so I went to her school and I had walked into a hypnotherapy class. And they were showing open-heart surgery with no anesthetic, people remembering languages they haven’t spoken since they were children, and I just said I want to learn that! And I started getting really engrossed into it, and I saw there were immediate results. While going through the process of learning, you’re also dealing with your own stuff, your own psychological issues, and dealing with that cleared up a lot. It’s almost like letting go of the baggage, which was weighing you down.

GN: Share with us some of your experiences of hypnotherapy. How exactly does it work? Can you describe how you conduct a typical session with a client? What all does it involve?

You have three parts in a brain—if you want to think of it as three circles inside each other, the biggest circle on the outside is your conscious state, where your ego is; the second ring inside would be your subconscious, which is where your habits are formed, where your earliest childhood memories are, and in the direct centre is your unconscious—that’s where your biological functions happen. Though basically you are resistant to change, to learning something because of your ego—your ego has planted in your head that this is the way things go and therefore it will not change.

So when I access your brain through whatever way your brain processes information, the conscious state or ego shuts down, in which case your eyes close. You’re still awake and aware of everything that’s going on. You’re almost in a meditative state, but deeper than meditation. And inside there, in the subconscious is where you can change, you can see things differently; you’re more adaptable because it only ages to the age of 12. So it’s like telling a 12-year-old, “You are good at this,” or “You don’t need to smoke,” “You can learn this language very quickly, and it believes you because a child believes you. When you open your eyes after the session, your ego or your conscious executes it like it’s always been there, so the change had happened, your ego recognizes it, and your body executes it.

GN: But can you have this access to someone’s brain/functioning instantaneously or do you need to sit with them for some sessions to listen to whatever issues they may be having?

It depends on how much you’re willing or want to change. If you really want to change, you let go and you don’t try to control everything, the change will happen immediately. I have an aunt who stuttered very badly from the age of 6. She’s now in her 60s. And I couldn’t take her stuttering anymore so I told her to come in. it took us an hour, but she doesn’t stutter at all anymore. Whereas I’ve had some drug-addicts or some alcoholics come in and it takes them three sessions to overcome it.

GN: What kind of feedback do you receive to your work?

99% is positive. People have changed—my aunt doesn’t stutter, alcoholic or drug addict patients don’t have any worries or concerns anymore. I’ve had people achieve whatever they wanted out of life. I was in front of the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and 100% of the people achieved their goals at the end of eight weeks when we had done the sessions together.

GN: What will be your advice to someone to beat fear? Without getting into therapy what is the first step someone can take?

The first thing to understand is that your fear is like fog. It looks like something with substance, but the minute you start driving through it, you don’t even realize you are in the middle of the fog, it doesn’t look like anything. The way you do that is by actually evaluating why is it that you are afraid. And then when you come to an answer, you ask it again, until you get down to the very core of what it is. At that point you realize it actually doesn’t exist.

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Sandy Sidhu: Making an Exciting Future in Hollywood

Posted on 20 January 2012 by admin

Sandy Sidhu, an aspiring young artist is playing a recurring role as Dr. Mehta in the military science fiction television series, Stargate Universe. Sandy Sidhu and her co-stars launched  Afternoon Tea at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2011. The film was selected for 2011’s Shorts Cut Canada Programme at the 36th TIFF. Afternoon Tea is among the 40 short films selected.

Born and raised in BC, Sandy first entered the spotlight by representing her hometown as the Nanaimo Princess Ambassador from 2003-2004. Sandy has received a degree in Cell Biology and Genetics at the University of British Columbia.

What does Cell Biology has to do with acting, you may wonder.

“Some might find that the polar opposite of acting but I’ve always been creative. I started doing theatre when I was fourteen years old and I’ve been drawing since I was a kid,” she explains.

 

As a young artist who has embarked on a challenging career, Sandy believes that the South Asian artists can make it to the mainstream.

For herself, she tells Generation Next “I see an exciting future ahead. Increasingly you see more and more South Asians on screen. Just the other day I saw 30 Minutes or Less with Aziz Ansari. There are numerous TV shows airing right now that have main cast members who are South Asians, and looking at blockbuster hits like Slumdog Millionaire and Bend It Like Beckham you can see the demand. It’s a fortunate time to be in the industry as just twenty years ago it would’ve been a very different landscape and most likely much more difficult to attempt.”

“I definitely think there’s acceptance. Sure, the North American industry hasn’t quite got to the point of seeing a South Asian Batman yet (And that is something I’d love to see). If there any barriers, then it’s up to people in my generation to break through those and make it happen,” she adds.

While the mainstream may be open to visible minorities, are communities’ like the South Asian community open to accepting the community’s newest stars?

“The South Asian Community is incredibly supportive. There might be more apprehension or fear to attempt a career so different, but I think that’s about it. And that’s a universal feeling, not one limited to just our community,” she stated.

As a young actress, Sandy believes that getting good roles may be a bit of a challenge.

“..it would be having stronger characters and not just being boxed into roles that are just the girlfriend, the wife. Not that those roles can’t be fascinating themselves but to stretch people’s current expectations and explore different aspects of a woman’s psyche. I’d also love to continue to see more film projects with a woman that completely carries the film.”

As far as the stereotypes like arranged marriages go, Sandy says “although I wouldn’t choose to be in one, I have nothing against arranged marriages because I know people who’ve had success with it.”

How about social issues like honour killings?

“I have zero tolerance for it. It’s appalling and nonsensical. I grew up with the mentality that we choose our love, that we choose our passions, and that to live our life with freedom is a basic human right we all deserve to have without consequences,” she says strongly.

At an individual level, how does she see the relationship between fate and hard work?

Sandy tells us “I believe in both. You can’t sit around expect things to just happen for you. I think it’s a fusion of working hard and having faith it’ll all work out the way it’s meant to.”

By Staff Writer

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Continuing the NDP’s agenda to build Canada

Posted on 20 January 2012 by admin

We’re into the middle of January and I’m looking forward to the return of Parliament at the end of January. Yes, I’m a bit of a political nerd, but I’m also eager to watch my fellow New Democrats continue on their successful agenda of standing up for Canadian families.

 

Canadians took a good look at Ottawa and they didn’t like what they saw – ongoing scandals, divisive politics, inaction on important issues. So it’s no coincidence that on May 2, 2011, 4.5 million Canadians put their trust in the NDP to fix Ottawa and made history by electing an amazing team of New Democrats as the Official Opposition.

 

I’m proud that the New Democrat team has already delivered on that promise of change, with record numbers of women and young leaders in Parliament. They have set a new tone in Parliament and for the first time in decades, progressive Canadians from every corner of the country – including Quebecers, are united under one (orange) banner.

 

On the other hand, the Conservatives are continuing their agenda of putting their well-connected insiders first, and for failing to act on the issues that matter to Canadian families: job creation, health care, pensions, and lifting First Nations communities out of poverty. Canadians are now seeing a clear choice with a New Democrat team that will ensure families come first and nobody is left behind.

 

Going into 2012, NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel and the entire caucus remains as committed as ever to carrying out Jack Layton’s dream for a better Canada.

 

“The outpouring we saw upon his passing showed us something we all knew,” said Turmel. “The values Jack Layton held dear are Canadian values. He had a dream for a Canada built on hope, optimism, perseverance and the rock solid belief that by working together, there is no challenge we cannot overcome. That’s a truly Canadian dream.”

 

No doubt, New Democrats will always carry on Jack Layton’s legacy by working together, and by forming a New Democrat government that will always put Canadian families.

 

Rupinder Kaur is the Press Secretary to New Democrats.

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Tamil Heritage Month

Posted on 20 January 2012 by admin

It is important to remember during this month that there is still much work to be done in order to achieve justice and proper reconciliation for Tamils in Sri Lanka, while also working towards creating an equal and just society in Sri Lanka, in Canada and around the world.

 

As we enter the New Year, we look forward to a year of happiness and prosperity. In January, we also enjoy festivities, in celebration of the Pongal festival and the Tamil Heritage Month. There will be events in Tamil communities across the country celebrating Tamil language, culture, and overall Tamil Heritage in Canada.

The Thai Pongal festival, allows us to give thanks for our blessings over the past year and to look forward to a new and hopeful year.  Canada has become the most popular destination for Tamils outside of Sri Lanka with approximately 300,000 Tamils calling Canada our new home. What better time to celebrate our culture and heritage among fellow Canadians than during this joyous time of year.

We must commemorate the accomplishments of Tamils in Canada and our contributions to the social, cultural, and economic prosperity of our country.  Tamils are often among the most engaged and active communities and maintaining this high level of community involvement is an important part of our culture and history in Canada. I am sure that this Tamil Heritage Month will be a wonderful celebration and I look forward to seeing many friends at community events throughout the month.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank the municipalities that have shown leadership by officially recognizing the importance of celebrating Tamil Heritage here in Canada. The Town of Markham declared January 13-15 are Tamil Heritage Days and the city of Pickering recognized January as Tamil Heritage Month and January 14th to be Tamil Heritage day.

I am truly blessed to celebrate my Tamil culture and heritage with such freedom in Canada and I am proud to call myself a Canadian. Many Tamils have come to Canada in search of peace and liberty in an attempt to escape the terrible conditions created by the civil war. Although conditions have improved, and people around the world have recognized the crimes that were committed over the last 30 years, there are ongoing concerns regarding human rights abuses and the treatment of minority Tamils within Sri Lanka.

The report from the Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Committee’s uncritical take on events has glaring discrepancies from the UN report.  This is why we need an independent investigation into these atrocities in the hopes of creating true peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. I along with my NDP colleagues have been asking the government to call upon the United Nations to follow the recommendations provided by its own panel of experts to launch and independent investigation into the allegations.

For this reason it is important to remember during this month that there is still much work to be done in order to achieve justice and proper reconciliation for Tamils in Sri Lanka, while also working towards creating an equal and just society in Sri Lanka, in Canada and around the world.

While we enjoy this month and celebrate our language, literature, art, history, traditions and more and we look back on our achievements and successes, as a community, and as a country, we also look forward to create a better world for all.

To everyone during this month of celebration and the Thai Pongal festival I wish you peace, love and joy.

Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum!

 

MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan is the NDP MP who represents Scarborough Rouge-River at the House of Commons.

 

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Three years of detachment from people

Posted on 20 January 2012 by admin

About a year ago AL’s performance as the vanguard of the government came into serious scrutiny after its dismal showing in a local mayoral election and the two parliamentary by-elections. It was expected that the government would take into serious cognizance of the people’s message and would initiate drastic steps to metamorphose the mode of governance in coming days in order to arrest its sliding down the slope of popularity. However, a few of the government actions in the midst of those debacles and thereafter did not reflect any signal of change in the means and the modes of the governance.

When the government completed its third anniversary on the other day, the decline barometer of its popularity did not surprise any political observer. According to the Daily Star opinion survey, the negative ratings of the government performance in all aspects, starting from the direction the country is moving, view on economy and the overall popularity of the government have declined significantly over the last one year. For instance a year ago only 29 percent of the respondents were dissatisfied or much dissatisfied with the performance of the government as compared to 43 percent a year later. On the affirmative side, while this year 38.6 percent said they are either very satisfied or satisfied with the government, last year a huge 48 percent said so. The results of the two recently held mayoral elections where people in large numbers voted against the government-endorsed candidates, only validated the findings of the statistical polls.

An advisor to the government disagreed with the poll findings of the two national dailies. I would like to believe that he has only performed his routine tasks by dismissing the poll results or else I would urge him to come out from the company of the government sycophants to the midst of his party’s well-wishers, not adversaries, and from my own experience of their pulses, I can assure him that he would be surprised to discover that how still more than one third of the people are satisfied with the government.

Bulk of the sympathizers of AL are guided by some virtues, the values of our liberation war are the driving force of those virtues; their consciences are not easily swayed by any materialistic greed. It is only natural that the expectations of those people from AL, especially when the party is in the helm of the state, would be very high. Unfortunately, AL leadership, instead of taking cue from the criticisms of its well-wishers, set them aside as antagonistic elements. As a well-wisher of AL, I have sent personal e-mails to a numbers of government leaders offering my services on the arena (probably PM knows what I am referring to) on which they are either misguided or misinformed, but none of them even had the minimum courtesy to acknowledge the communications. A few politicians while they were not in the government when visited the City called me times and again requesting meetings with me. But after they became part of the government, many times I came to know from the media report about their visits to my neighborhood. When AL President visited Toronto in 2007 I was invited as the only speaker from the community in an ‘exchange of opinions’ congregation attended by a few hundreds invited guests. But when the Prime Minister visited the same city in 2011, I was not invited even as an audience, let alone as a speaker, as I am categorized now as an ‘antagonist’ because of my expressed views. These tell volumes of the extent the politicians in power are detached from their well-wishers in particular and the people in general.

One of the important election pledges of AL was to place ‘multi-pronged measures to fight corruption’ as was rolled out in the Charter for Change prior to the last general election. But did the government act according to its pledge? In fact, in this front, the AL government has even made its political opponents look like angels. It was for the first time a major donor agency brought allegations of corruption against a cabinet minister entrusted to building the most important communication bridge of the country, an important election pledge of the government. The reluctance of the PM to show concerned minister the door gave rise to speculations of the PM’s special weakness for the minister in question and it made the party’s election promise a mockery to say the least. In the process, its failure to build the bridge in its current tenure became the worst setback for the government, which otherwise would have been a landmark achievement for the party to sell in the next general election. It was impossible even for the staunchest supporter of the PM to defend her inaction. In fact, the all-pervasive corruptions which have permeated into and engulfed the lower levels of the party’s leaders and cadres hardly make any news in the national dailies but the local people, many of them are the direct victims, are very much aware of it.

Trial of war criminals is an issue dear to the heart of the nation. In this front as well, acceding a lot of limitations since the incidents happened some forty years ago, the hope of the masses has dampened; the hope that propelled millions of youth in particular to give AL-alliance the historic election victory in 2008.

The next general election is still two years away. If the government takes cue from the recently surveyed poll results, the criticisms of its well-wishers, and listen and respond to the pulses of the people, it can still reverse the tide of declining people’s support and bring them back to where they belonged some three years ago before their hopes with the government turn into irreversible despairs.

The writer is the Convenor of the Canadian Committee for Human Rights and Democracy in Bangladesh

 

 

 

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Humber College Students Can Now Apply for the New 30% Off Ontario Tuition

Posted on 20 January 2012 by admin

Students in Etobicoke-Lakeshore and across Ontario can now apply to get 30 per cent off the cost of their tuition.

 

“In difficult economic times, it is essential that as many students as possible are able to get the education and skills they need to succeed in a changing job market. This grant will be particularly helpful to our degree students who, like their university counterparts, must finance four years of postsecondary education. We applaud the Ontario Government for this initiative and remain committed to providing a quality educational experience that will prepare all our graduates for the jobs of the future,” stated John Davies, President, Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning

 

To help keep the cost of postsecondary education affordable the government is taking 30% off the average tuition for families – that means $800 for undergraduate degree students at Humber College and $365 for diploma and certificate students at Humber College this semester.

 

Students could be eligible, if:

  • They are a full-time student at a public college or university in Ontario
  • It’s been less than four years since they left high school
  • They are in a program that they can apply to directly from high school
  • Their parents’ gross income is $160,000 or less

 

This September, the permanent 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant will apply to the full school year.  Students in a university or college degree program will save $1,600, while students in college diploma and certificate programs will save $730.

 

 

Helping Ontario students with the price of tuition is part of the McGuinty government’s plan to keep postsecondary education within the reach of all families, while building the best-educated workforce in the world. That leads to a stronger economy, and creates good jobs

 

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Geeta Maini: Enjoying Energy in Kitchen

Posted on 20 January 2012 by admin

“..I never knew how to operate a stove and was never really interested in being in the kitchen since my Mum and aunts were in full control of their kitchen..”

 

Born and brought up in Kisumu, a lakeport on Lake Victoria in Kenya, a developing Nation with a very diverse multicultural exposure, Geeta Maini’s family was a traditional Hindu family that maintained a sound balance between the modern and traditional values. After completing schooling in Kenya, Geeta went on to get her degree in Hamilton at McMaster University.

 

In Canada as a busy young mother, Geeta continued to explore the culinary arts. She became a superb hostess, a student of many ethnic cuisines and eventually a teacher offering lessons of her own. She writes a blog called Khaanasutra-Khaanasutra. Geeta has also published and launched her first Indian cookbook called “An Affair with Indian Cooking: The Khaana Sutra of Indian Cuisine,” in November 2007. Currently she is in the process of completing the sequel.

 

 

In an interview with Generation Next, Geeta tells us “The story of my kitchen and passion for food begins in my family home in Kenya, where the traditions of superb Punjabi meals were taught and inspired a love of cooking and entertaining. Although I loved to eat, I never knew how to operate a stove and was never really interested in being in the kitchen since my mum and aunts were in full control of their kitchen. Today however, I enjoy the energy in the kitchen and feel as relaxed in the kitchen as someone would in a spa.”

 

 

Talking about her love of cooking, she tells our readers “I was brought up in a family of foodies and we all loved to eat and in most instances I think we live to eat! My attraction to cooking and the culinary world was a personal challenge to myself. I had a very limited knowledge of cooking when I got married and now I had to feed my husband and entertain socially. My father, on one of his initial visits to Canada made a comment to me about my culinary skills. He used my mother and younger sister as a bench mark. This was an insult to my pride. The challenge was on and I was going to excel and surpass their skills if I could. Today my signature slogan, EXPLORE, EXPERIMENT AND ENJOY is what keeps me immersed in the kitchen, donning my apron and constantly working on bettering my skills and knowledge of the global cuisines we are so fortunate to experience in Canada itself.”

 

Geeta divides her times between Canada, Kenya and India. Which country/culture does she associate the most with and why?

 

“Our family recipes originated from Kenya. These are all authentic Indian recipes but there are some that we have developed using ingredients from different regions of Kenya. This is primarily because of our exposure to these cuisines in Kenya. I am going to say that I associate myself primarily with Kenya because our roots are still in Kenya. Of late though with my frequent travelling to India, I have explored the different cuisines there and merge them with what I have learnt in Kenya.”

 

 

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New Schools in Brampton: Are They Really Beneficial?

Posted on 20 January 2012 by admin

In an area as rapidly expanding as Brampton, there are bound to be implications to all the new properties being built. The Gore Road and Castlemore area just outside Springdale has been growing at a fast rate since the early 2000’s, and is continuing to do so. Along with the new strip malls, Sikh and Hindu temples, and countless pizza shops, there are several new schools that have been built and are in the process of being built. Opening new schools to go along with the population growth in the Brampton area seems like a great idea on the surface, but people seem to overlook the effect it has on the school children.

Established in 1972, Chinguacousy Secondary School is one of the oldest high schools in Brampton. With the growing population in Brampton in the 2000’s, the enrollment in Chinguacousy Secondary School skyrocketed. When the number of students attending the school became too high, new schools were built. Sandalwood Heights Secondary School was built and opened in 2007. Students were moved from Chinguacousy to Sandalwood. Students had to say goodbye to the familiar halls, their school friends and their beloved teachers.  These two high schools are not the only ones that have gone through the process of transferring students; Catholic schools and elementary schools are also going through the same transformations.

The major issue here is the boundaries that are being instilled for new schools. Students who had previously gone to Chinguacousy Secondary are now at Sandalwood Heights. Students from Sandalwood Heights have been moved this year to Louise Arbour Secondary School, opened in 2010. Since the year 2000, four new public high schools and over twenty elementary schools have opened in the City of Brampton. The expansion does not stop here. There are both elementary and high schools; public and Catholic schools, still in the process of being built.

With all the new schools opening in different locations across the city, there is bound to be some confusion about which students will be going to which schools. To accompany all of the new learning establishments, there are boundaries being placed to designate the students to particular areas.

Like the shift from Chinguacousy Secondary School to Sandalwood Heights, students all around Brampton are being transferred to different schools that are more appropriate to their locations. There is growing frustration with all of the moving and transfers of the students. Students are becoming agitated as they are forced to move from a school within walking distance from their homes to places that are several bus rides away. The boundaries enforced are becoming increasingly conflicting to students who are coming close to their graduating years, students who have to wave goodbye to the place where they began their high school careers, only to go to a place with unfamiliar students and staff, and more importantly, an unfamiliar curriculum.

The number of new schools coming into the Brampton area is rising to cater to the growing population. People are supporting the growth, believing that it is in the best interest of the city as it will heighten its appeal. The students seem to be the only ones adversely affected by all the changes. Although their new schools may be of a more convenient commute to them, the students do go through a difficult process of being pulled away from a place where they may feel at home. Does anyone really think about the way this might interfere with a student’s performance at school?

Think of it in terms of work; after working somewhere for years, being forced to move to a different place that is new to the industry, a place where you are introduced to new people, new buildings, a new atmosphere and most importantly,  new guidelines. Initially, it is likely for one’s performance to be affected by all of the new surroundings. It is the same concept for students who are being moved to new schools. It takes time for people to adjust to their new environments.

Since the area is still expanding and there are more schools in the process of being built, the real question that must be asked is if anything can be done to prevent or lessen the impact of moving on the students. If not, we can hope that students will be able to adjust to their surroundings quick enough to not have it affect their grades.

By Gagan Batra

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Architect Ravi Khatri Explains the Competitive Nature of His Field

Posted on 20 January 2012 by admin

“It’s a little intimidating, I’d say. You don’t know whether all that you’ve done is good enough compared to the other people you’re competing against for a job.”

“Just be silly, joke around, have fun with what you’re doing. If you’re always so serious, you won’t enjoy what you do.”

It is at a young age that people start thinking about what they’d like to choose as their career. There are ups and downs, points where people give up, only to start from scratch on a new project.  We are told that we should start thinking about our careers in high school. After high school, we are told that it is university and college that set us up for our futures. Young architect, Ravi Khatri, seems to be the exception to this notion.

At only twenty two years of age, Ravi Khatri has secured a job as a Junior Estimator at one of the oldest and most experienced companies in roofing and waterproofing of buildings. After successfully completing four years of study of architectural science at Ryerson University, Khatri is now able to set the foundation for a promising career in architecture. Khatri has provided answers that were both interesting and eye-opening, to say the least.

GN: Have you always wanted to be an architect?

Since I was seven years old, I was interested in architecture. The way things are built and sustained through the years has always fascinated me. Since I was very young, I wanted to learn more about the structure of different objects, that curiosity had led to me want to know about buildings. I have always known what I wanted to do with my life and I never backed down. I now know that it was the right path for me because I love every bit of it.

GN: How long did it take you to find a job after graduation?

It took me about six months in total to find a job. Before then, I had a bunch of interviews and had applied to a number of different companies. Nothing really felt right. I really enjoy where I work right now, I feel like it’s the perfect place for me to start off my career.

GN: What do you consider to have been the most difficult part of starting a career as an architect?

For me I think that getting into Ryerson was a real challenge. The field is already very competitive and getting into university and being able to study architecture is difficult. There is very limited space in the program at Ryerson, about 150 students get in out of the 3,000 that apply. They take a lot of things into consideration. Grades and a portfolio of your work during high school have to be of top quality, and besides that there is an interview procedure you must go through to be considered. After getting into the program, there is the difficulty of not only staying in, but getting top marks and compiling a portfolio that may seem acceptable to potential employers. Finding a job is also hard because you’re competing with others who have gone through it all, people who have already created their portfolios, gotten top marks in their incredibly competitive college or university programs. It’s a little intimidating, I’d say. You don’t know whether all that you’ve done is good enough compared to the other people you’re competing against for a job.

GN: Do you typically see a diverse set of races and cultures in the architectural sciences program at Ryerson University?

Well, there was a wide range of races in my program. I’ve noticed Persians, South Asians, Canadians, all types of people, really. There didn’t seem to be one race that was significantly predominant in my program than others. I’d say that it was pretty diverse.

GN: Is there a diverse set of races and genders where you work at Bothwell Accurate?

There’s less of a range of races where I work than there was at Ryerson, but I do still see some diversity. There is less diversity seen in more of the entry level positions than there is on the administration side. On the administration side, I see different races and both genders. In terms of the estimating department where I work, people are predominantly Caucasian. I actually think that I am the only person of colour in the estimating department, as well as the youngest.

GN: Were you ever intimidated working where you are knowing that you are one of the few South Asians at your company?

Not really, everyone is treated equally and they didn’t treat me in any certain way due to the colour of my skin. The only reason I’d feel uncomfortable where I work is if I were exposed to differential treatment because I’m of a visible minority there. Everyone I work with treats me as a coworker, and more importantly, as a friend. My boss especially makes me feel comfortable. I know that he is fond of me as a worker and he can look upon me to do a good job, that makes me feel more relaxed and at home working there, regardless of the fact that I’m one of the few South Asians there.

GN: Do you have any words of advice you’d like to give people wishing to follow the same path and get into architecture?

There are only two things I’d like to stress. Firstly, just remember the thing that architecture is all about; it is about building. Never forget to be gentle, tread lightly as whatever you do will have some impact on our planet. Remember that our planet is one of a kind and our objective is to create beautiful structures that are ultimately beneficial to its design. Second, don’t take it too seriously. Architecture is very competitive in nature, so never give up with one bump in the road. You need to learn to brush your shoulders off, get back up and try again. Without that determination and drive, you will never achieve what you want. I worked really hard to get where I am now, harder than I’ve worked on anything else in my life. There were times when I wanted to quit, but I knew that I couldn’t see myself doing anything else with my life other than this. All of the work really does pay off in the end.

Ravi Khatri, twenty two year old, aspiring architect, explains that it is important to keep it light. “Just be silly, joke around, have fun with what you’re doing. If you’re always so serious, you won’t enjoy what you do.” This message goes to show that it is essential in the competitive working world to take pleasure in what you do, if not, you won’t have the motivation to do it.

By Gagan Batra

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Making Community Work a Passion: Munira Ravji

Posted on 20 January 2012 by admin

“I think it’s important for employers to see immigrants as coming to the table with assets, not deficits.  Having employees with global experience that speak multiple languages, makes Canadian businesses more competitive globally, and opens up new markets to individuals such as newcomers and immigrants they may not have been able to reach before.”

“I know a lot of my friends and colleagues are looking to alternative ways of connecting via online or dating events.  It seems to be working.”

 

Munira Ravji’s family migrated to Canada from Nairobi, Kenya in the mid-1980s. As a pharmacist, her father enrolled into the University of Saskatchewan to upgrade his certifications to practice in Canada. The family later moved to London, Ontario, where Munira’s father opened his own pharmacy. After finishing her studies in Montreal, she started her business—offering PR consulting and project management to not-for profit organizations.

 

A few years ago Munira moved to Toronto, where she worked with numerous youth, arts and community organizations. At the core of this is her involvement with Maytree Foundation initiatives for immigrants. As she puts it, “I have so much respect for immigrants making the move to Canada. Seeing my parents struggle, and prevail has inspired me to support and encourage others who are taking the giant leap of faith and starting from scratch in Canada.”  She wishes to empower new Canadians to enable them to offer their talents to the Canadian society and be accepted and prosperous in the process.

 

Having worked in close proximity with new Canadians, Munira feels that lack of access to certain positions and opportunities can hold visible minorities and women back. A number of factors affect their possibilities, she feels, including family dynamics, income levels, and the lack of the right kind of social networks. In her view, a combination of changing the dynamics of the country’s education system as well as corporate and societal values can provide solutions to this problem.

 

Speaking about the often-dreaded “Canadian experience” and English-language education for new immigrants, Munira says, “I think it’s important for employers to see immigrants as coming to the table with assets, not deficits.  Having employees with global experience that speak multiple languages, makes Canadian businesses more competitive globally, and opens up new markets to individuals such as newcomers and immigrants they may not have been able to reach before.” Her advice to immigrants, especially skilled ones, is to tap into local programs like the ones offered by TRIEC and to employers to utilize comprehensive and free resources such as hireimmigrants.ca and the roadmap tool to support the process of recruiting, retaining and promoting skilled immigrants.

 

Munira tells Generation Next that one of the most exciting aspects of her job is working with major corporations across Canada who are focusing on skilled immigrants who have already settled in cities across Canada. As she says, “All of the major banks, as well as consulting firms are already championing the need and benefits to hiring skilled immigrants. We hope to continue growing these relationships with major corporations, as well as small to medium enterprises to help them prepare for a looming labour shortage, as well as to strengthen their existing teams and organizations by connecting them to qualified international counterparts.”

 

As an Ismaili Muslim, Munira is the external communications chair for the Ismaili Muslim Council of Ontario. She feels that as a young professional, her experience and ideas are valued in the organization. “Besides taking on leadership roles across the Council’s many portfolios, there are also groups and networks that are focused on bring young Ismaili professionals together either to network and socialize, or encourage professional development and capacity building,” she says.

 

The discussion moves to Canada’s multiculturalism, which Munira feels is incredible. However, she feels Canada is yet to figure out “how to leverage this diversity instead of making it token.” In order to make the country’s multicultural claim more authentic, there has to be fair representation across sectors in terms of leadership, she believes. Referring to the South Asian community, she says there’s still room for the community to be more active in the political arena, which she suggests can be done by encouraging emerging leaders to run and getting seniors out of their homes to participate in political campaigns.

 

At a more personal level, Munira loves her current role. She says with exuberance, “I have the opportunity to speak publicly about something that I am passionate about (skilled immigrant employment), and collaborate with some of the most celebrated leaders and experts in my industry.  It’s also really inspiring to be a part of such an important movement and watch the momentum grow across Canada.  I don’t think I will ever stop volunteering!”

 

Given the level of today’s youth involvement in various activities, does Munira think it’s a challenge to find Mr. or Miss Right? Munira tends to agree that there might not be “enough in-person spaces in which to meet other like-minded individuals in a meaningful and authentic way,” but also adds, “I know a lot of my friends and colleagues are looking to alternative ways of connecting via online or dating events.  It seems to be working.”

 

So where will Munira Ravji be ten years from now? In her own words, “I hope to continue being as happy and content as I am now—surrounded by family and friends, maintaining a meaningful career, and giving back as much as I can.  In the next 10 years, I hope to see all this hard work and innovative thinking materialize into the kind of Canada we envision now.  Something sustainable and harmonious.  Something to really be proud of.”

By Staff Writer

Photo By: Keving Robert Fong

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