New website profiles immigrant success stories in P.E.I.
Gagandeep Sehgal has experienced first-hand some of the challenges that immigrants can face when moving to Canada.
Having immigrated from India over five years ago, Sehgal knows the difficulties associated with cultural shock.
He also noted that, for himself, settling in a new home wasn’t as difficult as it can be for some.
“In India, English is a widelyspoken language, but for many immigrants, especially refugees, who come from different countries learning a new language is a very big challenge,” said Sehgal, adding that other major challenges can include finding housing as well as others to relate to.
“In Toronto and bigger cities you won’t feel (culture shock) as much because there’s a lot of people. When you move to P.E.I., especially five years ago, there was hardly anyone here from India.”
Sehgal and four friends, who have also immigrated, are hoping to create some awareness of those challenges while celebrating success stories on their new website, “Namaste, World!”
The site features videos and short articles profiling Island immigrants they describe as “heroes.”
Sehgal said there has been a lot of controversy and misinformation about immigrants and pointed towards debate over the issue in U.S. politics.
“We wanted to give a positive spin to that,” he said. “We’ve all been through it and someone who has been through that stage knows what it takes to move to a new country and settle in a new place.”
The five profiles released in “season one” have included immigrants who became P.E.I. entrepreneurs.
“The response has definitely been positive,” said Senghal, noting that the group received an overwhelming response during Charlottetown’s DiverseCity Festival.
He said the group hopes to eventually profile immigrants outside of P.E.I. as well.
The word namaste is a greeting and in India has a spiritual meaning of “I bow to the divine in you”. The name is also a play on the “Hello, World!” computer programming language, which is often used to introduce beginners to writing code.
Sehgal and he and another in the group both work in the IT sector, while two work in business and another is studying biotechnology.
Because of their work, the website is a side project. However, the group hopes to release a second season of P.E.I. profiles in October.
“We’re getting to a point where we want to do more stories and we definitely need some help and are looking at what we can do to expand,” said Sehgal, adding that he has reached out to P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan.
He said the initiative has also received support from the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada.
“They’ve been quite helpful in giving us contacts for people who want to share their stories and have also been very helpful in getting the word out.”
Gagandeep Sehgal, seated, and his team from Namaste World, from left, Prashanth Gunti, Vimal Ramaka, Alkarim Bhalesha and Adi Vella, ham it up with the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Charlottetown. Their new website profiles immigrant successes in Prince Edward Island.