Unlocking the keys to success: Compelling stories of Canadian newcomers
Recognizing extraordinary newcomers who found their footing in Canada
Setting foot in a new country ignites feelings of excitement and apprehension, but a clear understanding of what lies ahead can help ease challenges along the way. Bags 2 Riches, an inspiring online video series, spotlights the personal and professional journeys of Canada’s most notable newcomers, and encourages others to learn from their empowering stories.
Earlier this month, Canadian TV personality Sangita Patel warmly introduced five of the accomplished Bags 2 Riches superstars to an eager audience of students and young professionals. Presented by Simplii Financial, the Sept. 19 event featured cast members speaking about their incredible journeys, recent accomplishments and, most importantly, offering advice for other newcomers looking to achieve success in Canada.
Chris Boucher, the Saint Lucian–born Toronto Raptor and championship winner, voiced his extreme gratitude for his mother, who immigrated to Canada in hopes of providing a better life for her family. Inspired by her sacrifice, Boucher said it’s only right to give back what he received, so he strives to provide support for newcomers like his mom. Her resilience and perseverance to open doors for him laid the foundation for his determination to succeed. Now, Boucher aims to help the next generation by doing the same—providing opportunities for them to grow and advance.
“You need to adjust and adapt, and always continue learning… When it comes time to take a chance, take it” —Chris Boucher
Three panelists followed Boucher—radio legend and broadcasting pioneer, Shushma Datt; visionary entrepreneur and leader in Canada’s tech community, Allen Lau; and four-time Canadian Olympian, Georgia Simmerling.
Datt’s story of perseverance and triumph in the face of adversity is legendary. Born in Kenya to Indian parents, she lived in several countries throughout her childhood before she eventually found her calling in England working as a BBC radio broadcaster. Datt went on to interview such high-profile musicians as Mick Jagger and Pete Townshend, and was one of the first Indian women to become a technician and studio manager. Later in British Columbia, she became the first woman to be awarded an AM radio station licence by the CRTC.
Championing women in the industry throughout her career, Datt said that when you’re determined to do something, it’s up to you to do it. When opportunities come your way, you must take them. She encourages newcomers to dream as much as possible, reach for the stars and break the glass ceiling—the universe is waiting to provide what you want in your heart of hearts, if you’re willing to do the work to get it.
“Don’t get frustrated; things will come to you if you work hard and have patience” —Shushma Datt
Lau arrived in Canada from Hong Kong at the age of 19 with ambition and a dream of success. Now a visionary entrepreneur and a legend in the Canadian tech industry after co-founding Wattpad, the world’s most popular digital storytelling platform, he’s working to help other digital entrepreneurs build the next big thing. Lau said newcomers need to be strong and hard-working, but they also need to find something they do well and work to constantly improve their skills. If you work hard at something you’re good at, opportunities come, so keep pushing and striving, he said.
“Don’t give up; follow your passion and what you’re good at, and the results should come” —Allen Lau
Simmerling proudly competed for Canada in four Olympic Games and is our first three-sport Olympian. Today, she’s working to change Canadian women’s sports for the better. Her current project, Project 8, is advocating to bring the first professional female team ever to Toronto, stirring the pot in the male-dominated sports industry. She advised newcomers not to get frustrated, as patience is key to getting what you want. She said to always follow your passion, and rewards will come if you work hard to achieve your goals.
“Put in the work to have that competitive edge, and don’t be so hard on yourself about the small things—you won’t win every race” —Georgia Simmerling
Tareq Hadhad and his family, chocolate makers and founders of Peace by Chocolate, had their heartbreaking, yet incredibly inspiring story adapted into a critically acclaimed film. The film (also called Peace by Chocolate) shares the story of the family’s journey starting a chocolate business as Syrian refugees in small-town Nova Scotia.
Following the panel, Hadhad, now a Canadian peacekeeping and immigration advocate who has been recognized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, insists that in times of test, family is best. Reinforcing the positive impact of newcomers and the spirit of resiliency, entrepreneurship and giving back, Hadhad said that no matter what challenges you face as a newcomer, it’s important to remain true to yourself and your heritage.
“The power of small acts of kindness changes lives” —Tareq Hadhad
Life is all about perspective and the way we view our problems, said Hadhad. Everyday small acts of kindness have the power to make positive change, and even to save lives. He believes the key to success for newcomers is in the do-nots: do not resist change; do not fear the future; do not dwell on past mistakes. By changing your perception of your fears, you’re better able to overcome them and move past them, allowing you to move forward in a positive direction.
These incredible stories challenge us all to think more deeply and critically about the immigration landscape in our country, the importance of diversity and what it means to be truly Canadian. Simplii Financial is proud to share the lessons learned by these inspiring newcomers and offer new Canadians the best financial start possible through a unique range of services, including overseas account applications, college tuition payments in home currencies, and no-fee, real-time global money transfers to friends and family.