There’s been some uproar online about the People’s Party billboards that popped up in Toronto recently, decrying mass immigration. It’s disgusting but not surprising; Canada is not immune to blatant state-sponsored racism.

My experience is the immigrant experience, but probably not the typical one. I’ve gone through so many visas and statuses I’ve lost count.

I came to Canada in 1997 on a diplomatic visa, and started school at the University of Waterloo. I transferred to a student visa, and also did a number of co-op terms in the United States (on a J1 training visa) at in Seattle. I had all intentions of moving to the US. But, the visa for my last co-op term wasn’t granted because the Embassy deemed I had spent “too many terms” in the US, and needed to go back to my country of citizenship (India) to apply my training for atleast two years. That wasn’t an option, so I stayed in Toronto.

It was 2003, and there weren’t too many tech companies around. I called and emailed over 250 companies in two weeks looking for a technical internship starting immediately. Only one company answered - Tira Wireless - and that’s where I worked for my last term and as my first full time job. At Tira, I moved from a work visa and started my application for permanent residence. I officially landed as an immigrant around 2009, and a citizen a few years later. In total, the nerve-wracking process took almost 10 years.

Immigration is a tense process, and every step is a small win towards the life you want to live. It also creates loyalties around those that helped you along the way. Tira is no longer around, but I’ll always remember it as the company that supported and sponsored in this important transition in my life.