This is the second profile in a series highlighting some of the Hamilton area’s successful immigrants.
Name: Naim Zeqiri
Country of origin: Kosovo
Came to Canada: 2010
Occupation: Animal care attendant, City of Hamilton.
What skills, experience, business knowledge and global connections did you bring to Hamilton?
In Kosovo, I worked as a veterinarian. I managed my own veterinary hospital for five years. Although I can’t practise as a veterinarian in Canada yet, when I show my coworkers and supervisors my portfolio of pictures and videos of work I have done, they are quite impressed. I have treated cases that my colleagues in Canada have not seen before.
What brought you here?
My wife’s family is settled in Hamilton and opportunities that Canada offered.
What has helped you settle?
Primarily, it was my family that helped me. My wife came to Canada when she was 10 years old, as a war refugee from Kosovo. I was amazed and impressed to see the settlement services and programs available here. There are free English classes and bridging programs at the YWCA and Mohawk College. I got job search assistance at YMCA’s CareerWorx.
What networks do you belong to?
I am registered with the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and I am a member of the Hamilton Academy of Veterinarian Medicine. I volunteer at SPCA and Dundas Animal Hospital, Stonechurch Animal Clinic, which has helped me to network with other veterinarians.
What is the biggest challenge about living in Hamilton?
When I arrived here, I could not speak English at all. It was quite frustrating that I had to start from scratch. I worked hard to change that. I attended English language classes at St. Charles and College Boreal during the day and bridging program with YWCA, and at night I would go to Mohawk College.
The moment when you felt successful:
After spending more than a year learning English, I passed my Canadian Academic Language exam and this was a milestone for me. I can now go for professional accreditation, which is required to practise veterinary medicine in Canada.
Hamilton Public Library. It is an important resource for me to continue to improve my English.
One thing you really like about Hamilton:
The city’s multiculturalism and diversity makes me feel at home. Hamilton has everything — from old buildings to parks and nature trails, malls to small boutique stores.
“Remember when one door closes another door will open.” – Naim Zeqiri
Advice for newcomers:
Remember when one door closes another door will open. People here are nice and value professionalism and community contributions. To move forward, newcomers should explore and take advantage of settlement services and programs.
Future plans: Getting accredited to work as a veterinarian in Canada. After that I am required to pass two more exams, which will take another year. There is at least one more year waiting list for the Clinical Proficiency Exam. So, hopefully, two years from now I will be able to practise as a veterinarian.
* This article was originally published in The Hamilton Spectator and has been republished with permission.
** This series is a joint initiative of the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council, Workforce Planning Hamilton and the City of Hamilton’s Immigrant Attraction Action Plan.