In his three short years living in Canada, Sukhjit Singh has accomplished more than many who have lived here all their lives. He moved from India to Canada in 2009 with his wife and daughter, and upon arrival, realized he had to take action to integrate and become comfortable in his new community.

The process that led to his first volunteer role was very informal. Critical to his success was his outgoing personality and willingness to put himself into new situations. While still completing his integration workshops, Sukhjit began offering his services to volunteer organizations in the Peel Region.

His legacy of volunteer work began with the YMCA as a facilitator of computer workshops, where he quickly realized the enjoyment he got from sharing his skills and knowledge with others. Seeking to branch out further, he became involved with India Rainbow Community Services of Peel and, eventually, with Volunteer MBC.

Among his many volunteer and professional accolades to date, a title Sukhjit takes very seriously is that of volunteer ambassador and Board of Director for Volunteer MBC. At all times, he carries information with him about the various volunteer organizations in the Peel Region with which he is involved, and offers it to anybody who appears like they would find it useful.

Sukhjit credits his volunteer experience as being one of the greatest contributors to his knowledge of Canadian culture and workplaces – and understandably so, since it was his volunteer work that led him to his first paid job. Now, he volunteers as a way to give back to the community that welcomed him with open arms – most of his efforts are focused at facilitating the integration of other newcomers into Canadian culture.

When asked about his greatest volunteer accomplishment, a modest Sukhjit claims that it would be all of the amazing people he has met and connections he has made as a result of his efforts. His advice to other Canadian newcomers? Don’t be afraid to reach out. People are friendly; all you need to do is make the decision to step out of your comfort zone and speak to them. In his words, “Volunteer work is like getting a university degree in networking and Canadian culture for free…except those degrees would be hard to come by, so the value is even greater”.

To acknowledge Sukhjit’s tremendous voluntary efforts and achievements, he was presented with the 2012 Newcomer Volunteer Gem Award by Volunteer MBC in April, 2013. He has also recently been selected as a recipient of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards.

Written by: Jason Repovs