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Asian Star- Naz Sohni Uppal

PICNative village/Country, parent’s background
My mother and father were both born in Gujrat, Punjab, Pakistan. I was born in Montreal, Quebec.
Your early education
I attended elementary school in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I attended junior high and high school in St. Albert, Alberta. And I studied Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
When & why you came to Canada?
My father came to Canada in 1966, and my mother came to Canada in 1972. Both my parents came to Canada because there were better opportunities to live here. My father left Gujrat, Pakistan to continue his studies in England. Then he came to Canada to find better opportunities to work.
Your career advancement initiatives and present occupation
I think it’s fun to list past jobs I’ve had before I talk about the present. My past jobs have included: Cineplex Odeon Movie Theatres; the Jubilee Auditorium; and Photography at Sears Portrait Studio. My present occupations have consisted of: Radio Producer/Host; Television Reporter; Magazine Journalist; and Children’s Fiction Writer. In the future, I would like my career to continue to focus on radio and television and print, but I would like to advance in these areas, particularly in the creative positions. And of course, I’d like to have a series of children’s books published too.
Your regret in life
I have absolutely no regrets in life.
Pick any one of your the best achievements
This is a hard one. I think one of my best achievements is that I grew into an adult who has an open-mind and a big heart.
Were you ever discriminated?
Absolutely not. I was never ever discriminated against. Canada is so multicultural and unique in that we all have a different understanding and a different interpretation of life and of our experiences and of how we perceive the world. I know and I was raised to believe that all people are naturally good. And I was raised to take on the challenges of life with that in mind. If something has ever been spoken to me that I may have an inclination to take offense to, I never do, because I understand where each individual is coming from. They are coming from a point of curiosity or experience or of a different interpretation of how they see the world.
And sometimes, you just catch someone on a bad day. And I never ever make the mistake of judging someone on a bad day. It is my responsibility to understand what the person REALLY means by what they say.
What you miss in Canada?
My parents have spent over 40 years in Canada. Initially, when they first moved here, they missed a lot of things. Of course 40 years ago, there was no community at that time; there wasn’t a significant population of South Asians; there were no food stores and no connection to South Asian culture whatsoever. But fast forward to now, there is a huge population of South Asians not only in Edmonton but also in Canada. There is more connection to our culture, lifestyle, food, music, movies, etc that we don’t really miss anything back home anymore. And we can thank my parents generation, be it the entrepreneurs or the families, for all the hard work they put in to bringing that little taste of South Asia to Canada. And they worked really hard at that.
Are you happy in Canada?
Aren’t you happy in Canada? Yes, of course I am. I am very proud to be Canadian.
This is where I feel most comfortable. In Canada, we are free to practice any faith and any religion. We are free from interference, no one interferes in your life. We are free from social shame, no one judges you for past mistakes. We are free to truly live life and be whoever we choose to be. We are free to speak up for what we believe in. There’s a great deal of freedom here in Canada. And I like that.
Any comments on Canada’s weather
I think the default answer is always it’s cold! So cold! But I enjoy that we have 4 distinct seasons. It gives us hope to change, and to look forward to changes in our lives. My two favorite seasons are summer and winter. Summer because it’s beautiful. And winter, it’s also so beautiful. Sure a couple of months in the year are tough, but as long as you are prepared to dress warmly, it’s fun and there are so many cool winter activities to enjoy.
Any comments on Canada’s culture
We are so fortunate to live in a multicultural society. Each of us is different and special and we can learn a great deal from each other. As we learn and observe other cultures, we can make ourselves better.
What brought you success in Canada?
Hard work and trust in others brought me success in Canada.
Are you willing to help new comers?
As I already do with my work, I want to guide newcomers so they don’t go through many of the struggles my family went through when they first came to Canada. And I want to especially help the young people out there, the teenagers in our community, by letting them know we’ve been through what they are going through and it all comes out great in the end. So it’s ok to go through these things, and if you are struggling with anything, be it classes, at home, teenage issues, don’t be afraid to talk or to ask for help.
Your message for Canadians of Asian origin
Trust other Canadians. Canadians are good people.Your children will make a lot of mistakes in their lives. Let them make some of the less harsh ones on their own! This is their time to find out who they are. So let them solve their problems on their own, with some, but not too much, interference.
Remember that saying – it takes a village? Well, immerse yourself in that village. Growing up in both St. Albert and Edmonton, we became part of a young community. These particular community members worked very hard to show us who we were, where we came from, and why we should be proud of that. Almost every weekend as a teen, we spent at someone’s home for dinner. The young girls were always in a separate room so we could openly talk about our lives, our problems, school, boys, etc. And in letting us do that and in letting us become the best of friends, we grew into stronger and better people, and more caring people. And we still to this day, are like family. I would like to say to the younger generation of immigrants, embrace that. Form that kind of bond with a few South Asian families and make them your real friends. You will turn out better for it. I promise.

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