Although there are many things happening in Canadian immigration right now, I wanted to break from my usual informational based posting to highlight what I think is a remarkable immigration story. Given Canada’s current immigration challenges of refugee crises, diversity and inclusion policies, immigrant retention in rural Canadian communities, and recent reports of racial profiling with the CBSA, I think this story reminds us of the big picture and what we as a society are working towards.
This past weekend Prime Minter Justin Trudeau announced that Dr. Mohamed Iqbal Ravalia had been appointed as a new independent Senator representing Newfoundland and Labrador. Dr. Ravalia came to Canada from a small east Indian based community in Zimbabwe more than 30 years ago and worked as a family physician in Twillingate Newfoundland. He is a senior medical officer at the Notre Dame Bay Memorial Health Centre, and an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Assistant Dean of the Rural Medical Education Network at Memorial University.
I was first introduced to Dr. Ravalia’s story when he was highlighted in a CBC documentary several years ago. The documentary was called My Own Private Twillingate, and was produced by Heather Barrett. I had the opportunity to listen to the documentary a few times when it was first released and was inspired by his story. If you haven’t heard it, you can still find the documentary still posted at the following: http://www.cbc.ca/nl/features/privatetwillingate/
Mild mannered, gentle, and funny, Dr. Ravlia speaks about his experiences arriving in a small, predominantly white community. In building a medical practice, he needed to establish trust with his patients while struggling to understand a new culture. It brings much insight to the immigrant experience for those of us who haven’t moved internationally. It should also be a reminder to us that the new immigrants that we welcome into our communities have extensive knowledge and experience to contribute. They make us stronger and more capable to face the challenges of our future as the world becomes a smaller place.
That a person has the opportunity in Canada to rise from immigrant to Senator (or Minister of Immigration for that matter), attests to the environment of opportunity here as well as how much we value diversity and its rightful representation in our government. The appointment of Dr. Ravalia makes me proud to be a Canadian. I wish him only the best in his new role.