Banpreet Singh Shaney is happily working full time as an engineer in Nova Scotia. Having arrived in late 2015, the process was faster and smoother than he expected. For that, he thanks ISANS. “It provides a really good support for new immigrants,” says Banpreet.
ISANS came into his life even before he left his homeland of India. As a Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA) client, Banpreet enrolled in several workshops—Working in Canada, Workplace Integration in Canada, and Job Search Strategies — focusing on Canada’s work culture, writing a resume and cover letter, and finding employment. He completed assignments and created documents, emailing them to the instructors. It was challenging, as he worked six days a week as an engineer. “But I had no choice; I wanted to come here.
Banpreet’s wife, Simran, had suggested moving to Canada to be closer to relatives in the US. Banpreet, who is from a family of engineers, loved his job in India, but was intrigued by a new work culture. While waiting to be accepted as permanent residents through Nova Scotia’s Provincial Nominee Program, they moved to London, Ontario, in April 2015, where he began his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering at Western University. He also was solution editor for math problems in a junior-high textbook, worked in a restaurant, and painted apartments. Banpreet completed his degree at Dalhousie while working as a dishwasher, as superintendent in his apartment building, and marking undergrad papers.
He and Simran, who works in the insurance industry, also benefited from ISANS post-arrival employment services. The Internationally Educated Engineers (IEE) Bridging Program included practice interviews, which Banpreet found helpful as in Canada there is more emphasis on what he calls “behavioural” qualities. A few months after arriving, he began a three-month internship with Nova Scotia Power where he worked on a Turbine Water Induction Protection System, which also served as his Master’s project. “I performed an audit on all of their steam turbines; I generated a cost/benefit matrix.” Banpreet continued part time there while completing his studies, and, upon graduation, started full time. In 2017, he earned his professional engineering license.
Banpreet and Simran had intended to return to London, but Halifax has captured their hearts. “Wow, this is what we wanted, easy-going culture, people not rushing, decent size. That power of inclusion you feel here is mind-boggling.” They’ve experienced a few instances of racism, but, Banpreet says “compared to the good things people have done for me in Nova Scotia, that’s nothing.” Simran works at RSA, an insurance company in Dartmouth; they have a home in Bedford and a young daughter, Karam.
“Twenty-seven years in India and one night everything is new—blows your mind when you think about it.” Banpreet shares his appreciation of ISANS by volunteering in the IEE Bridging Program. He describes it as “heartbreaking” when he meets immigrants who don’t take advantage of ISANS’ services. “They might want to rush and do everything on their own. You need to be calm and work through it.” As his story shows, it’s worth it.