Native Village/Country parent’s background
I was born in the village of Khushpur, which is located in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. The village was founded by Christian missionaries in the late 19th century and its name translates to “happy settlement”.
My paternal grandfather served as Headmaster of the local Catholic school after serving in the Pakistani military, and my maternal grandfather was a farmer. Both my grandmothers were homemakers. Before moving to Canada, my father worked in engineering in the Middle East and my mother worked in nursing.
Your Early Education
I received my B.A. in Humanities, majoring in Philosophy, from York University and my LL.B. from City Law School, University of London.
When & Why You came to Canada
My parents decided to move to Canada shortly after my birth so that I would be raised in a country with unrestricted access to new opportunities. They were also influenced by the hope of raising our family in a country in which people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds can practice and share their beliefs freely. While they had no connection with or ties to Canada, they were captured by the promise of Canada: that anyone who works hard and honestly can achieve their biggest dreams.
Your career advancement initiatives, volunteer work and present occupation
After completing my bachelor’s degree, I worked in the Canadian parliament in communications and cross-cultural outreach. I then briefly worked in provincial politics before moving to the UK to serve in both houses of the British Parliament, where I focused on building trade relations. I also served on the advocacy team for global religious freedom at a legal organization in Washington, D.C. before returning to Edmonton to resume my work in Canadian federal politics.
Your Regret in Life
Pick Any One of Your Best Achievements
While I am quite proud of my accomplishments thus far, especially in my legal work defending human rights internationally, I believe my best achievements are yet to come.
Were You Ever Discriminated?
I am hard-pressed to recall a time when I was discriminated against in Canada. The broad acceptance, hospitality, and warmth I have experienced throughout my life in Canada have been second to none.
Are You Happy in Canada?
Canada is an amazing country with a rich heritage of liberty and equality. I am grateful to be Canadian and consider myself blessed to have been raised in this country and to be able to build my life here. However, there is certainly room for improvement, particularly given the current state in which we find our country. I believe I will be able to say with greater assertiveness that I am happy in Canada once we have stronger national leadership—leadership that respects the dignity and freedom of all Canadians and fosters an environment of growth and responsible governance.
Any Comments on Canada’s Culture
Canadian culture was built upon, and continues to be rooted in, the concept of pluralism—the idea that people of different backgrounds, convictions, and interests can peacefully coexist as friends and neighbours. There are few places in the world in which Canada’s ethnocultural dynamism can be matched. From sea to sea, Canada’s culture is renowned for being accepting and open to all while maintaining a high degree of equality. You can experience cultural traditions and religious practices from around the world without leaving your city—that is what makes Canada’s culture truly unique. And, it is our display of respect for one another that draws people from around the world to our country.
Any Comments on Canada’s Weather
Although I appreciate experiencing all four seasons, I am partial toward Canadian summers.
What Brought You Success in Canada?
Anyone can achieve success in Canada by working hard, working honestly, and working humbly. These are attributes that I have witnessed in my home, in my community, and in my travels across the country, and I have seen that taking a principled approach to anything you do in life will always produce success. Canada was built on the backs of people who dared to take risks, were willing to sacrifice personal comforts, and aimed toward creating a better environment not only for themselves but for all those around them as well. I am merely attempting to follow in the footsteps of those who have paved the way for me.
Are You Willing To Help New Immigrants and How?
Immigrants are an integral part of Canada’s history and will continue to play a critical role in our country’s future growth and prosperity. The importance of and value in assisting new immigrants in their early days in Canada cannot be overstated. Through my family’s charity work—which involves sponsoring immigrants and refugees to come to Canada—I have been involved in helping new Canadians settle into cities across the country for more than a decade. This experience has shown me that having a strong community network is paramount for new immigrants in order to adjust well. I hope to work on enhancing government initiatives that bolster civil society and community support systems that are providing essential services to new immigrants.
Your Message for Canadians of Asian Origin
Canadians of Asian origin have contributed significantly to our country and should be proud of their accomplishments. Building a new life in a foreign land is no menial task—it requires determination, conviction, and strength. For Asian-origin Canadians that have successfully settled and built their lives in Canada, I believe it is important to remember that we owe it to this country, our new home, to ceaselessly work toward its betterment and growth. Canada is a country of untapped potential. We should all strive to use our personal skills and specializations to make advancements in all industries and sectors and produce results that make Canada an exemplary nation on the world stage.
We must also never take for granted the freedoms we enjoy in this country—freedoms that are either constantly under threat or simply do not exist in our countries of origin. We have a duty to all those who have fought and sacrificed for this country, and to future generations, to keep Canada strong and free.