In our new series, The New Saskatchewan, we’re meeting newcomers to the province and looking at how immigration is helping our province grow. Meet Ranjith (Ran) Narayanasamy.
From India to Saskatchewan.
Adjusting to a modern, changing world is already a feat, but immigrating to a new country, particularly a cold one, is a bit like playing a new video game for the first time on hard mode. But the new Saskatchewan (even the new Canada) relies on diversity, skilled labour, and entrepreneurial knowhow. Bringing in new Canadians is necessary to economic growth and improvement.
Ranjith Narayanasamy, better known to his friends and colleagues as Ran, is the new president and CEO at the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC). Appointed to the role in February 2022, Ran previously worked at SaskPower and has both a master’s in engineering and a master’s in business administration from the University of Regina.
Ran worked at SaskPower for fifteen years. His role as a senior business advisor saw some special recognition in his work efforts. Ran managed Indigenous procurement in his role, and his team, the Indigenous Procurement Initiative team, received the 2019 Premier’s Award—an award for excellence in the Public Service. Naryanasamy’s stories about coming to Canada in the early 2000s are relatable for many first-generation Canadians: humble beginnings as a student, working hard to make a life, and trying to establish roots all at the same time.
“You can’t take anything for granted; nothing comes easy in a new country,” Naryanasamy says after describing how he came to Saskatchewan for his master’s degree in engineering. His friend Venkatesh referred him to the University of Regina, and through the GradWorks program, he got his foot in the door working at SaskPower. During his early days in Saskatchewan, a large Indian community was not established. He shared a two-bedroom apartment with five other people and pulled a bed out of a dumpster to sleep on; he could not afford a new mattress in his early days in Canada.
Now, he can take his children to drive by the dumpster where he found the mattress that he slept on for a year. He retains connections to India as a volunteer and former president of the Regina Hindu Temple and has been able to give back to the community and future generations of immigrants and international students. Another layer of cultural adaptation also exists when the workforce is in the picture. It helps you get a pulse on the environment that you are working in, whether as an expat, visitor or immigrant.
Naryanasamy’s journey to receiving a Premier’s Award with his work team provided some fascinating perspective on what it is like for an immigrant to work closely with Indigenous businesses and communities. Naryanasamy spent time with Indigenous communities working in Black Lake, Sask. (for reference, about 20 minutes south of Stony Rapids), and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation. He felt they were very similar to his home culture in India. He
observed that there is a preference for trust-based relationships in the Indigenous communities he worked with, and deep spiritual ties much like in his Hindu community. He felt welcomed and accepted for who he is and was able to connect with a culture that is similar. “It benefits everyone to have relationships with Indigenous communities.”
Narayanasamy’s work ethic and drive to build community in Saskatchewan are the cornerstones of his success story as a new Canadian. His sage advice for newcomers to Canada: immigrating is not about changing your identity but being open-minded. You can be who you are, still be true to yourself and your cultural roots, but adapt, learn and be humble. Remember that it takes time to adjust. Make friends and find mentors; diverse friendships and mentorships are very important.
According to the Ministry of Immigration and Career Training, Saskatchewan welcomed more than 146,300 newcomers from 181 countries from 2007 to 2020. Most of the province’s newcomers arrive from India, China, Philippines, Pakistan and Nigeria. Approximately 70 percent of immigrants to the province come through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP), taking up in-demand occupations. In November 2021, the
Ministry launched the Hard-To-Fill Skills Pilot under the SINP to address hard-to-fill positions in the province. It aims to help provide provincial employers with greater access to international options to recruit workers.