Shalindra K.C. is originally from Nepal. Before moving to Canada, he and his wife Laxmi lived in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for eight years. He worked in the retail sector, at a large Spanish chain of grocery stores, where he supervised over 90 employees and coordinated multiple business aspects – from HR to finances.
“Everything was good. The job was good. But everything is temporary there. You cannot apply for a permanent residency. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you have lived there for one year or 100 years. One day you will have to go back to your home country,” Shalindra explains.
The couple decided to move to Canada. An immigration consultant promised Shalindra that he will have a job in retail, which would lead to a permanent residency. However, when he came to Vancouver in April 2013, the job was not available.
Jobless in Vancouver
“There were about a hundred people like me brought by that immigration consultant. I was jobless for two months. I came with only $1,000, hoping that I will start working right away. I had no accommodation, no food. There were 10 or 12 of us living in one basement. We were sleeping on the floor, surrounded by cockroaches. When it rained, the basement would get flooded, and we had to move our luggage somewhere to save our belongings,” says Shalindra.
He was sent for training to Yellowknife, where he stayed for four months. When he returned to Vancouver, the job that was promised to him was still not available. The immigration company sent him to another two-month training in Surrey, without pay.
“I had no money for the bus fare, so I had to walk to work, which took me almost two hours one way. We used to go to a Hindu temple to get food. It was not the happiest time of my life,” he recalls.
Finally, he was offered a job at Mac’s convenience store in Summerland. Shalindra worked very hard, and was promoted to a store manager position. Today, Shalindra works as a store manager at 7/11 in Summerland. But that's not all.
Opening Up a Business
He also owns his own financial business - franchise of the Experior Financial Group. As a Senior Financial Advisor, Shalindra offers a number of services, including life, disability, critical illness and travel insurances, health and dental coverage, as well as various kinds of saving plans and investments: RRSPs, TFSAs RESP, retirement plans and children’s plans.
“What I like the most about my business is that I make money for myself only if I make money for other people – my clients. It is also about building your legacy. Whatever money and business I have, I can transfer to my next generation – my son.”
The idea of getting into this business field came to Shalindra when he and his wife were looking for life insurance. They met with various insurance companies but couldn’t decide because they disliked the fact that these companies were “pushing,” instead of explaining how it works and why it is important.
“Now I provide information, explain and educate the clients as per their needs, and help them make the right decisions. I do not push anything on them,” says Shalindra. “Now I have more than 300 clients, and, in the future, I plan to have it as a full-time job. I am currently training a few people to join my team and plan to hire more people.”
Home, Sweet Home
Although they miss their family in Nepal, Canada is now their home.
“We are now in a good place and this is 100% because of my wife’s support… When we were applying to come to Canada, we didn’t have enough money to move here, but she encouraged me. The same happened when we were planning to buy a house. I am a math guy, so I kept calculating and worrying about how we would be able to pay the mortgage and what we will live on, but she told me not to worry and just do it,” adds Shalindra with a wide smile.
Shalindra’s favourite recreation activity is kayaking early in the morning. He also enjoys reading, swimming and playing with his son. As a family, they love road trips. Shalindra is a member of JCI Penticton and the Chamber of Commerce. Before the pandemic, he was involved in fundraising for the community food banks.
Shalindra’s advice for newcomers is to try to learn as much as possible about how various systems work before moving here.
“Don’t think that you will come to Canada and do a certain job. Do your research: Find out what kind of education and skills you need for this job. You might need a licence for your profession. Research about the financial situation – taxes and other costs. Learn about the health and education systems. These services are not completely free. Most importantly, create a circle of friends and join community groups, such as SOICS [South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services]. They helped us a lot.”
Shalindra volunteers with SOICS by providing workshops for newcomers on financial literacy. Find out more about SOICS at soics.ca.
This profile, written by Elmira Galiyeva, is a part of the Community Champions campaign of the South Okanagan-Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership (SOSLIP). The Partnership project is led by the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS), which provides a range of services for newcomers to the region. The article was previously published on Castanet.