‘There is a disconnect between the federal and provincial systems. A federal system allows a person to immigrate to Canada on the basis of their professional qualifications. When the person lands in the country, these very qualifications are not recognized under provincial standards.’
‘The South Asian Diaspora is one million strong in the country and can build bridges to help achieve trade targets between the two countries. Reporting on these issues allows me, in my own small way, to be a part of the bigger plan.’
Renu Mehta is a communications specialist and a recipient of QE-II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012. She has been actively involved in promoting opportunities and representing immigrant communities to integrate into the Canadian social fabric though extensive involvement in various diversity organizations. She has worked with the CHUM group in the past, presenting Live Traffic for CP24 as well as hosted, reported and produced many programs for OMNI Television and has worked as a consulting editor for The Indian Express (North American edition).
As the creative head of ImageBuilderZ now, Renu has come a long way and is a known name in the field of media relations and communications. She spoke to Generation Next about her aspirations and journey so far in Canada.
1. When did you immigrate to Canada, from where, why?
We immigrated to Canada almost 18 years ago arriving on May 18, 1995 which also happened to be my birthday. Having lived in the Middle East for more than a decade, we felt Canada would be able to provide a good lifestyle for the family and an all rounded education for our kids. Also we wanted a permanent setup, a foothold in a country that would provide stability, equal opportunity and a diverse mindscape
2. How do you see your journey from Delhi University to ImageBuilderZ?
It’s been a great voyage. The years have brought a lot of positives into my life. Canada is a country that promotes multiculturism and has provided opportunities for me that would have been difficult to come by had we been anywhere else. It was in this country that I began a new career as a journalist, first in television and then in print. The crossover into PR with the formation of Imagebuilderz was inevitable, a career that provides gratification and fulfillment.
While we have had ups and downs which are inevitable when one settles in a new country, the journey has provided a great learning experience.
3. Tell us something about your initial days in Canada as a new immigrant. How smooth was it?
Our initial time in the country was very difficult as we struggled to find our feet. We did not know anyone in the country and there were long intense periods of loneliness. We had no friends initially, no social life and our qualifications were not recognized. I missed my family very much but all this changed when we found jobs and bought our own home. I took a career path in journalism and had to go back to School completing two years in broadcast journalism from Seneca College. I was the oldest student in the class and despite all odds was one of the first students who made it getting a job on CHUM Radio and presenting Live traffic on CP24 on weekends and evenings. This was a dream I had always envisioned and Canada provided that opportunity.
Today, I have one of the largest networks in community, media and social fabric that is very gratifying and valuable.
4. What’s your opinion on the job market scene here? Is there a subtle discrimination here?
There is the question of Canadian experience that holds up some very talented people who probably would contribute significantly to the economy much sooner. There is a disconnect between the federal and provincial systems. A federal system allows a person to immigrate to Canada on the basis of their professional qualifications. When the person lands in the country, these very qualifications are not recognized under provincial standards.
5. What advice would you give to newcomers who face a tough time getting their dream jobs?
Volunteer, volunteer and volunteer. Volunteering opens doors and provides networking and the much needed Canadian experience. I volunteered thousands of hours at Rogers Cable, OMNI (then CFMT), the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce, EIPROC and other organizations that provided valuable networking opportunities.
New immigrants should also upgrade their qualifications as per Canadian needs that will enable them to get jobs faster.
6. You’ve been quite active in media and have reported on pertinent issues related to Canada and India. How do you see this experience as an extension of your personality?
Being in the media and reporting on various issues allowed me to understand the strengths of both Canada and India and what the two can offer each other in terms of energy, education, infrastructure and various other sectors.
Canada has an ambitious trade agenda and wants to triple trade with India to $15 billion by 2015. Towards that end, the nuclear deal was signed during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit last year to India and CEPA negotiations are entering the seventh round of negotiations. The South Asian Diaspora is one million strong in the country and can build bridges to help achieve trade targets between the two countries. Reporting on these issues allows me, in my own small way, to be a part of the bigger plan.
7. Do you think Canada needs to open up more as far as international professionals are concerned?
There is a wealth of talent out there and India, with it’s vast young English speaking and professionally qualified population will be able to fill that niche. Canada is also looking at other countries like China and has an ambitious immigration agenda lead by Minister Jason Kenney.
8. Did you at any time face gender inequality in your career?
9. Your vision for future
Continue to build the South Asian brand in the mainstream, bringing their success stories forward, thus allowing them to integrate much faster into the system.