A Masterclass on Passion, Dreams and Ambition: Saima's Story

When arriving in a new country, many folks have hopes and dreams of establishing themselves and leading a successful life in their new home.  

With 35 years in operation, IWC has served thousands of newcomers looking to settle in the Hamilton area. The organization has met many clients, each with their own unique path and goals in life. We recently had the pleasure of reconnecting with Saima N., a current teacher with the HWDSB, to learn about where her journey has taken her. 

IWC client, Saima, smiling in classroom office


In Saima’s words, she describes her immigration experience as a “funny journey.” She arrived in Canada in 2008 from Pakistan with her children and vividly recounts her immigration officer asking her “How are you going to survive?” As a new immigrant and single mother to four children, Saima ensured that she did her research, so she and her family had the tools in place to successfully settle in Canada.  


IWC got connected with Saima in the late 2000s when she attended an information session covering employment-related topics. From there, she met with staff from IWC’s employment team for support with her resume and job search.  


As a former university professor back in her home country of Pakistan, Saima planned to pursue a similar career path in Canada. The lengthy process of earning her teaching degree in Canada combined with her 25 years of international experience not being recognized, presented significant challenges for Saima. However, this did not stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher in her new home. 

On her journey to becoming a teacher in Canada, Saima studied at multiple universities including the University of Toronto and Queens University; ultimately earning her teaching credentials.  Her proactive spirit and desire to get involved in the community, led her to volunteer at her son’s school and actively participate in school committees. Through these, she gained valuable Canadian experience and knowledges about the Canadian school system, culture and customs.


Over the years, Saima continued to gain work experience, landing positions with community-serving organizations and various positions at schools within the GTHA. She recalls her working with a local private school back in 2020 and how many of her students were also immigrants. She says, “There was good cooperation and understanding between each of us.” as they shared similar obstacles while settling in Canada.  


It’s clear that Saima has a true calling for education and community service. Her approach combines her personal and professional experiences, and applies them into her teaching practices and work outside the classroom. She playfully shares that “My kids make fun of me; they say that I’m a born teacher”. Today, Saima is a teacher with the HWDSB, a dedicated contributor to cultural and commemorative events, and a firm believer on the importance of making learning, fun, exciting and memorable. As you walk down the main hallways of her school, you will find the walls decorated with tall banner, highlighting commemorative months such as National Indigenous History Month, building cultural awareness. 

When asked about what advice she would have for newcomers looking for support in establishing their careers in Canada, she enthusiastically suggests that they should use the community resources around them such as IWC. She has a great analogy to illustrate her advice: newcomers arrive with ingredients to make a cake, and community organizations like IWC are the bakers who can help bake the cake.  


As for her future, Saima makes her passion for teaching evident, mentioning, “I love teaching, I love the smell, I love the giggling, I love the proudness of the kids… it’s very rewarding.” Teachers can have lasting impacts on their student’s lives and Saima is no exception. She says that even her students from Pakistan continue to keep in touch with her and share their achievements.  


As Saima takes us through her journey from a desk at a school where she is now a permanent teacher, it’s clear that her passion for teaching and her thirst for learning have been key in driving her to achieve her dream of teaching and sharing knowledge in her new home, Canada.


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