Canada is known as a nation that welcomes immigrants, but life is not always easy for them once they arrive.
Adapting to a new language, culture and even climate can be a challenge. Immigrants often live in the shadows of society.
A group of newcomer friends are hoping to change that, with the help of a new website created on P.E.I., which highlights immigrant success stories.
"We thought that it would be important because when people can actually see what immigrants actually go through behind the scenes they'll have a much better understanding of how life is for them," said Alkarim Bhalesha, one of the website's creators.
Highlighting positive stories
The website, called Namaste World, is a place where immigrant success stories are being celebrated. It was launched by a group of friends who came from India to study and work in P.E.I.
Gagandeep Sehgal, Vimal Ramaka, and Bhalesha all work in the IT sector. Along with friends Aditya Vella and Prashanth Gunti, they built the website to reflect positive stories of immigrant success in P.E.I. and around the world.
When coming up for a name for their website, they turned to their skills as software developers.
"In computer science, every time you write a program you start with a 'Hello World,'" said Ramaka. "Namaste in layman's terms is hello. In India, Namaste has a spiritual meaning. It means 'The light in me bows to the light in you... respects the light in you.'"
Seeing the light in every human being is what Namaste World is all about. The goal of the website is to honour an immigrant's personal journey and recognize the hard work it takes to achieve success in a new country.
'They work hard and create a better community'
The first local person to be featured is Akbar Sadat, an immigrant from Afghanistan who spent years moving from country to country with his family before finding peace and prosperity in P.E.I.
"He faced a lot of problems on his journey to Canada. We don't call a person we are featuring on our website an immigrant. We call them a hero. Akbar Sadat would be a local hero. Because they are everyday heroes working hard," said Ramaka
Ramaka said due to a shifting political climate in some parts of the world, some immigrants have gotten a bad name. The team behind Namaste World hopes to counteract that.
"An immigrant should not be seen as a bad person or a negative thing," said Ramaka.
"An immigrant is a person who would give up all that they have to come to a different country for a better life for their future generations, for a better life for themselves. They work hard and create a better community. That's what we want to show the world, that's what immigrants are about."
Looking for more stories
Namaste World launched in June which is Immigrant Heritage Month.
The team said they would love to hear from anyone with an immigrant success story to share, so they can highlight even more local "heroes."
"There are positives about each culture so our aim is to get the positives in each culture and make one culture which is all inclusive," said Sehgal.
"Let's leave the negative things out. Because in the end we are all humans."
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