Native village/Country, parent’s background
I was born in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India. My father was the late Shri Nitya Nand Swami was a lawyer who served as a member of the Legislative Assembly for five years, a member of the Legislative Council for 14 years, Chairman of the Legislative Council for 12 years, and finally, as the first Chief Minister of Uttarakhand until his retirement. My mother was the late Smt. Chandra Kanta Swami, the Inspector of Schools of all junior high schools in Dehradun and the surrounding areas. She spent her free time running the free school in the area and was always willing to open our home to the impoverished people in our community. Being raised by parents who having high values and ethics to serve community taught me at a very young age as to how important it is to give back to others.
Your early education
In 1978, I earned a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree from Gadhwal University, Dehradun, India.
When & why you came to Canada?
In 1979, I married my husband, Preetam Sharma, and I immigrated to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to start our family and our life together.
What you did for initial survival?
Our oldest daughter, Priya, was born the year after we arrived in Canada. When she was a year old in 1981, I started working at the Misericordia Hospital. I have been fortunate to build a wonderful career there, and have been at the Misericordia now for the last 38 years.
Your career advancement initiatives and present occupation
I attended NAIT and completed the Supervisory Development Program. I currently work at the Misericordia Hospital in the operating room booking office. I have also been involved in community service and volunteer projects with many nonprofit organizations, including serving as President of the Hindu Society of Alberta, which operates the North Edmonton Hindu temple. As well as President of the Alberta Hindi Association, where they teach Hindi to anyone who wants to learn. Currently I am the Vice President of Programs at the Council of IndiaSocieties of Edmonton.
Your regret in life
While I am happy and grateful to have been able to build a life here in Canada, I do regret that Igloo country is so cold.
Pick any one of your the best achievements
My greatest achievement is my family. My children are generous, loving and successful, and I am very proud of them. In regards to my own personal achievements, I am proud to have received the “Unsung Hero” Award by the Council of India Societies in Edmonton in appreciation of my services to the community.
Were you ever discriminated?
No. I am fortunate to have immigrated to an accepting and inclusive Nation where people of all backgrounds and beliefs are respected and are welcome.
What you miss in Canada?
I miss my sisters and extended family the most though. But I also miss day-to-day Indian culture andfriends coming to visit all the time without pre-intimation.
Are you happy in Canada?
I am very happy here. Canada is a very peaceful country and I love being part of it. I have spent most of my life here and I consider it my home country next to India. I am privileged and prideful that I am Grandma (“Nani”) and I love spending my evenings with my granddaughters, Sloane, Remi and Veda.
Any comments on Canada’s weather
The summers are very nice, but I still can’t get used to the bone-chilling winters and abundant snow. I try to go away to somewhere hot in the wintertime if I can!
Any comments on Canada’s culture
I deeply appreciate the freedom and acceptance that Canada offers. The values and beliefs of minority cultures are accepted and respected, even if they are not shared, and there is an opportunity for everyone to find belonging here.
What brought you success in Canada?
Honesty, hard work, networking, the support of family and friends, and the willingness to accept new challenges. I place on record the unflinching support of my significant half, Preetam Sharma.
Are you willing to help new comers and How?
I am always willing to help newcomers by offering food or housing, as well as smaller things that can help them prepare for life in Canada, such as boots and winter clothing. I am also willing to help newcomers find jobs and to connect them to resources that will allow them to be successful and lead joyful life.
Your message for Canadians of Asian origin
Never forget your origin and culture; these have helped to shape who you are. You are lucky to live in a country like Canada that is full of opportunities and diverse cultures, so take every opportunity that you can and make the most of it!
Always give back to society. Canadian abundance is boon and share with needy to evolve universal happiness.