A new book is allowing readers to learn what it’s truly like to be a female immigrant in Calgary.
“I’ve been told this book is like an emotional guide to immigration, because of the range of emotions that it covers,” said author Gayathri Shukla. “Women who have come as refugees, stories of some women who moved for economic reasons as a skilled worker or as a student. And we also have stories of women who were born in Canada to immigrant parents.”
Landed: Transformative Stories of Canadian Immigrant Women was a passion project for Shukla, who reached out to the community and gathered the personal journeys of 37 women from 30 countries. She held workshops with the women, many who don’t speak English as their first language — a process that took a lot of courage she says.
“That confidence for the women to feel like their story matters and their voice matters — very cathartic. That’s the perfect word for it.”
The collection of short stories written by the women often detail the heartbreaking reality they faced in various situations, like being judged for having an accent to the lack of being able to find employment.
“I think the biggest misconception I see is immigrants come here for their skills and then they face barriers in getting a job, because they’re told you don’t have Canadian experience. They’re doctors but they’re driving Uber cars,” Shukla said. “It’s a difficult place to be in.”
Shukla said the book isn’t just for immigrant women — it’s a great read for anyone curious about the immigration process in general.
Shukla grew up in India and Saudi Arabia, and moved to Canada with her parents as a teenager. She fondly recalls some aspects of her own journey as a newcomer, especially seeing snow for the first time.
“You’ve got to take a picture of that,” she said with a smile.
Shukla said the book is uplifting and enlightening, focusing on the “pride and joy” of becoming Canadian.
“The challenges I faced, overcoming stigmas and biases, but also the side of Canada that I see that is multicultural, that values democracy and the freedoms that we get to enjoy. That I think is a huge privilege,” she said.
“I just feel so lucky to be a part of this beautiful country. It’s really a ‘falling in love with Canada’ story.”
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