Tanzeela came to Canada from Pakistan about three years ago along with her husband and four children. Before arriving, she already knew a lot about Canada as she was actually the last of her siblings to make the move. Her brothers and sisters’ experiences paved her way and helped her to mentally prepare for the challenge.

Tanzeela is pleased with her new home. Her children, who range in age from six to nineteen years old, are all studying, and Tanzeela appreciates the quality of education they are receiving. She especially likes how the teachers and professors are supportive and always willing to help—they just need to be asked. This means that her children receive a good education without having huge burdens placed on them. Like Canada, the country, the schools here are relaxed and free.  

Tanzeela appreciates Canada’s freedoms even though in Pakistan, she enjoyed a similar lifestyle. Her husband worked as an engineer, they lived in a large city, and they had a relatively free and easy life. In this way, she is lucky to have not needed to make many changes as she settled into living in Saskatoon. There are even many options here for finding religiously and culturally appropriate foods. She says, “I love that there is freedom here—anything we want, we can do.”

Since arriving in Saskatoon, Tanzeela has been an active participant in many activities at Global Gathering Place. She attends English classes, Coffee and Conversation, WELL – Women Exchanging Life’s Lessons, Driver Theory, Computer classes, and meets with a volunteer for extra support. She says that she loves GGP because of the friendly and welcoming environment and we at GGP love seeing Tanzeela’s winning smile and positive attitude.

Looking forward, Tanzeela hopes that her husband will find a good job that will utilize his skills as an engineer. He is working now, but not doing the kind of work he loves and was trained to do. She also hopes to get her Saskatchewan Class 5 driver’s licence. In Pakistan, she had her licence and used to drive everywhere. Tanzeela also looks forward to the day when her parents will come to visit. Even though technologies such as Skype keep her connected, missing family and friends back home has been the most difficult part of moving to Canada. That, and the weather. No-one who comes from a hot climate neglects to mention Saskatchewan’s extreme cold. In spite of winter, Tanzeela loves Saskatoon. She loves that it’s a small city, she loves the friendly people, and she is sure that she can be happy here.  


Uttama came to Canada in March of 2013 by invitation of the Saskatoon Burmese Buddhist community. As a Buddhist monk and a Sangha member—one charged with sharing the teachings of the Buddha—Uttama was sought for his skills, practical experience, and knowledge. He is now a teacher, teaching children and others in order to enhance Saskatoon’s Dharma Buddhist community.

Uttama does not know what his future will hold as it is very much up to the will of his community. Right now, he is in Canada on a work permit and is taking the opportunity to learn as much as he can while sharing his own knowledge. He calls it an “exchange of information”, and says that it is his greatest hope for his future in Canada. At the moment, with the restrictions on his work visa, he is unable to attend university in Canada, but would very much love to continue the exchange by enrolling in religious studies at the University of Saskatchewan.

Uttama has become a regular attendee of Global Gathering Place’s Coffee and Conversation program on Thursday afternoons. He speaks glowingly about the program, commenting on the various dimensions of assistance participants receive including relief from loneliness, local advice, employment connections, and help with language. For himself, Uttama appreciates that he is improving his English and has a chance to be able speak with people from so many different cultures and countries. Meeting such a diversity of people is a new experience for him and he says that he has observed how people from different cultures have different ways of thinking and with time, by living here, their minds change to think more like Canadians.

Uttama likes how Canadians think. He said that Canadians are very polite, resilient, full of love to share, and eager to learn new things. Uttama likes to walk along the riverbank where he sees and meets many people. In his orange robes, he is easily identifiable as a foreigner. He loves how people are comfortable approaching him and striking up conversations. He likes how Canadians are friendly, peaceful, polite, and interested in learning about his culture.

He likes most things about Canada, but has also observed that there are many people who seem to be lonely. He can’t remember seeing so many people who struggle with loneliness and thinks that perhaps the difference is that Buddhist teachings provide solutions to this problem in his home country. Uttama explained that Buddhism trains people to be able to control their own minds so that they can search for peace and happiness inside of themselves instead of turning to others to provide it. He says that the goal is to achieve the four foundations of mindfulness—mindfulness of the body, of feelings, of the mind, and of mental objects—in order to be able to overcome sorrow and suffering. If we could achieve this in ourselves, we would achieve a more peaceful world.   


Grant came to Canada with his wife in 2007 after she received a job offer from the National Research Council. The plan was to stay here for only a couple of years before returning to their home in China.  Three years later, they decided that Canada was right for them and they applied for Permanent Residency status and brought their son from China to join them.
Grant says that there were many factors that influenced their decision. In particular, though, it was the better opportunities available to their son that had the greatest impact. Grant likes the education system in Canada and how it places much less pressure on students while offering richer educational resources. Students have less homework and the competition isn’t as intense. There are also many extra-curricular activities that children can take part in, things like swimming, soccer, and skating.
Upon his arrival, Grant’s impressive educational background helped him to secure a job as a research assistant at the University of Saskatchewan. He worked there for about six years, but found that the job offered very few opportunities for improving his English speaking and listening skills. Although his ability to read and write English was very strong, he found his strong Chinese accent and inaccurate pronunciation to be discouraging. This led him to seek out GGP and the Coffee and Conversation program.
Grant appreciates how much he was able to improve his pronunciation and fluency as a result of attending GGP’s programs. His language ability is much, much better now and he appreciates everything else he gained from GGP’s programs, particularly from Coffee and Conversation and Family, Fun, and Fit. It was wonderful too that his son was included in some of the weekend activities like mini golfing and swimming.
Grant and his family really like Canada and they have decided to make it their forever home. They have applied for Canadian citizenship and look forward to becoming more involved in their community. They want to be able to vote and to have a say in the decisions that shape this country.  They also look forward to continuing to enjoy some of Canada’s simpler pleasures. For example, the fact that there are so many green spaces open to the public is something they love. In China, with its much higher and denser population, lawns must be protected from people. Grant remembers how impressed he was the first time he saw children and families playing sports or enjoying other activities on one of Saskatoon’s many grassy spaces.
Grant hopes to build his career, either in the finance industry or at a university doing research work. He holds a PhD in Mathematical Finance and is looking into completing his Masters of Quantitative Finance. He is also very close to achieving a designation in the financial field with the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. He hopes that a Canadian degree and Canadian credentials will open up wider career opportunities. He would also like to meet and become friends with more local people.
Whatever he decides and wherever he finds himself, we wish him the greatest of success.