top of page



Unfulfilled Aspirations: Riya’s Story

It was difficult to leave home and step out into a distant land. I did, nonetheless. After getting my permanent residency, I wanted to experience the professional opportunities this country had in store.

I was a fully licensed lawyer in India, but I always wanted to practice in the field of human and refugee rights. This wasn't a full-fledged field back home, but I could pursue this dream in Canada. I was halfway through getting my right to practice as a lawyer in Canada when I decided to apply for a legal assistant position. I was in Toronto when I was interviewed by an immigration law firm. They called me "overqualified" for the role but promised that they would give me a lot of legal responsibilities since that is what they needed help with. They seemed wonderful, and I was excited.

I began my position. The first month was horrible. Every day, I was anxious and dreaded going to work. The culture was nothing like I had imagined. Nobody spoke to each other about anything apart from work. Everyone sat alone and ate their own lunch. The dirty dishes of the owners and others in the office were left for the legal assistant to clean. The workplace was disorganized. The Canadians working at the office bore a sense of entitlement. I remember watching a specific lawyer who would take credit for what the legal assistant did. When questioned about his incompetencies or unfinished work, he would blame the legal assistant.

I noticed everyone speaking to me quite rudely. Eventually, I realized that the ambiance at work was negative, irritable, and disrespectful. Almost every day, I wore eyes swollen with tears. I thought to myself, Is this what I've come here for?

I had an amazing life back home. I hadn't fled from a war-torn zone. I was not forced to tolerate disrespect for the sake of survival. I had 'chosen' to come here. I didn't come here because I had no other choice. My workplace provoked me to question every choice of mine. I hadn't expected this from a first-world country like Canada. Today, I resigned from this company. I'm unsure whether I'll find a better work environment or if what I have dreamt of truly exists here. However, I am willing to stay a little longer to understand what this country has in store for the ones who come here because they choose to and not because they don't have another choice.

Please note that certain facts have been altered for anonymity

This story was received as an anonymous submission

28 views0 comments


Do you or a loved one have an immigration or refugee story you would like to share here?

Tell us your story!

bottom of page