Manpreet Kaur (+Video)
Manpreet’s husband gifted her a pair of running shoes. The shoes not only represent his respect for her profession, but also signify how much he cares about her and supports her efforts to achieve her professional goals. It’s his way to give her comfort and support in a new country after leaving her permanent full-time government job in India.
On October 4, 2019, a fellow passenger on Air Canada turned to me and asked, “What’s your profession?” I wasn’t sure how to answer, whether I should say I am a nurse or that I used to be a nurse. You see, when I was leaving India, I was leaving not only the country but also my family, my permanent job, my colleagues and friends—and the most important thing: my identity as a nurse. But there was one thing from my nursing life that I carried with me—my black Puma running shoes. In fact, I still wear them for work here.
My husband bought those shoes for me from VR Punjab Mall in Mohali. The green stripes on the shoes matched my nursing uniform. I had landed that permanent nursing job in 2012. I had ranked 13th among more than 5,000 candidates. Thirteen is usually considered an unlucky number in some cultures. However, according to the first Sikh Guru Nanak, the number 13, or “tera” as we say in Punjabi, means “everything is yours, nothing is mine”. It symbolizes the selfless human being without any ego.
When I landed in Calgary with those shoes, I never imagined that I’d be stuck at home for two long years. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get a permanent job as a registered nurse in Canada. I applied for various jobs during my first week in Calgary, but I could find work only for three days in November. Then, the harsh winter came, followed by the global pandemic which upended my journey to become a nurse.
Everything seemed dark and gloomy in those days. All over the world, nurses were working and were being recognized as front-line heroes in the war against COVID-19, while I was waiting for my professional credentials to be recognized by the regulatory organizations. The days and nights passed by without any activity in the basement where I was living with my husband. Sometimes, when my husband left for his job, I was alone. I would don my Puma running shoes, and venture outside for a walk, dreaming that I would soon wear these shoes as a registered nurse in Canada.
I clung to these shoes and vowed to work hard to make my dream of becoming a nurse here a reality. I resolved to overcome all the regulatory hurdles. I studied for ten hours a day and memorized all the books to pass the excruciatingly difficult exams. After a long and strenuous two and a half years, I got both my registered practical nurse and registered nurse licences in May 2022 from the College of Nurses of Ontario.
Nursing is not just a job but a religion that a nurse needs to follow diligently irrespective of the good and bad days at the workplace. Sometimes, I face concerned relatives and patients who appreciate my efforts and hard work in providing them with the utmost care and wellbeing. At times, I encounter tough moments with some difficult patients and their loved ones. It can become extremely hectic to deliver good nursing care with professional obligations in the face of a communication breakdown. No wonder, most nurses including myself, have to occasionally skip the meal break to fulfill all the tasks and the assignments. On some days, I have helpful co- workers who will answer my call for help, and on other days, I run into co-workers who are simply indifferent by nature. They don’t say hi or hello, show no courtesy, don’t even bother to acknowledge my presence. They even give me the cold shoulder whenever a task requires teamwork. Despite all these setbacks, I really enjoy my work because I have an impact on other people’s lives with my optimistic, polite, and positive demeanour.
I would like to express my gratitude to all the important people who have helped me in this arduous journey to become a nurse and don my Puma shoes with pride.
Manpreet Kaur received her BSc in Nursing in her homeland of Punjab, India. She worked for the Government Medical Hospital for seven years as a nursing officer. In October 2019, she moved to Calgary where she volunteered at Alberta Health Services while awaiting the assessment of her credentials. She also worked as project instructor at the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association. Since August 2022, Manpreet has been employed as an RN at the Cortelluci Vaughan Hospital.