Right in the heart of winter, in February of 2012, Munzir came to Canada from Bangladesh. He, along with his parents and younger brother, came under the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program and were first welcomed to Saskatoon by Munzir’s uncle.

As excited as Munzir was about coming to Canada, he wishes the timing could have been delayed, even by just a single week. He missed out writing his final exam for his Grade 12 in Bangladesh by a matter of days which was such a disappointment! However, his family did not want to delay as they had been waiting for years for the news they could come to Canada. When that news finally came, Munzir remembers how excited everyone was. His mom called him to tell him and they quickly booked their flight, travelled to the capital city of Dhaka, and stayed with relatives during that last week in Bangladesh.

Having completed one year of high school here in Saskatoon, Munzir says that Canadian high school couldn’t have been more different from what he was used to in Bangladesh. To start with, in Bangladesh, school was divided into two shifts. The mornings were for girls and the evenings were for boys.  The layout of the classroom included a blackboard, a table and chair and then rows of benches. Each bench held three students. Munzir says that he didn’t find the teachers to be helpful. He sometimes wondered if the schools were mainly interested in collecting the tuition.

School in Saskatoon is completely different. There are the glaring differences, like a lack of dress code, co-ed classes, and the general layout of the classrooms. The most important difference, though, is the fact that the teachers here seem interested in helping. He remembers class on his first day. He walked in to the Accounting class and the teacher came right over to him and started asking questions to see what he knew about accounting. The classroom was full of computers, and he was able to get right into it. He says he loved working on the computers and ended up making a real connection with that teacher.

Socially, however, high school presented some real challenges for Munzir. It’s hard being a newcomer—really hard. He thinks that the adjustment is tough on his parents as well. Youth in Canada enjoy far more and different freedoms than youth in Bangladesh, and although there’s always a generational struggle, it’s been amplified by the move to Canada. Munzir is very clear though, that having to struggle in life doesn’t mean that things are terrible. It just means that living requires effort. 

He has a few more classes to finish before achieving his Canadian Grade 12. In the meantime, he has also been attending programming at GGP. He says the Breaking Ground Program, in particular, has been a real source of inspiration. He joined the program partway through, but even so, felt that he learned a lot. He specifically mentioned the inspirational speaker on the last day and the stress management workshop. When the speaker talked about how to start a small business or a partnership, Munzir learned that preparation and solid background work is absolutely key to success. He also learned that stress is a fact of life for newcomers to Canada, of all ages. Finding out that he was not the only one feeling overwhelmed was incredibly empowering. He says that he appreciated learning practical techniques to help him to deal with those feelings.

Munzir isn’t sure where his future will find him. He laughs that since he’s already survived the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar, he’s ready for whatever life throws at him. He looks forward to finishing Grade 12, getting a good job, buying a car, and moving out on his own. The car, he says, will be particularly nice. He has discovered that he really detests taking the bus.

We look forward to Munzir’s regular visits to GGP. His wry sense of humour and slow smile keeps everyone on their toes. He has perfected the art of deadpan humour which can leave us breathless with laughter. We wish Munzir all the best and are confident that his humour and determination will serve him well.  Welcome to Canada!