Aligarh : Canada is registering a record intake of immigrants from India, yet making a fresh start can be challenging when it comes to accomplishing a number of personal and relational goals in the new country.
To address these challenges faced by ‘fresh off the boat’ Indians in Canada, a two-day (March 28 and 29) online international conference was held on ‘Interpersonal Communication Challenges for Indian Immigrants in Canada’. The conference was organised by the Department of English, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in collaboration with the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, New Delhi under SCLS Grant 2021-22.
“Canada is a popular destination for Indian students, but the difference between Canadian English and English spoken by Indians is more complex than you might think. Initially, it becomes difficult to understand the local accents and matching with the pace, and the tone of the language becomes problematic too”, said Prof Ratna Ghosh, Professor of Education, McGill University, Montreal Quebec, Canada.
She was delivering the keynote address in the inaugural function.
Prof Ratna pointed out: “Even as Canada witnesses a record intake of Indian students every year, many students find it difficult to understand the Canadian accent. This may lead to poor academic performances for students who otherwise scored high grades in TOEFEL and IELTS tests”.
She also gave reference to evidence in research on Indian immigrants, the problems they face in communication day to day, language in social settings, and how they adopt and maintain their identity in the new country.
Prof Faizan Mustafa (Vice-Chancellor of NALSAR university of Law, Hyderabad) spoke on his association with AMU and the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute.
He said: “The Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute has a unique mandate as it provides a financial support system for academic and research programmes in terms of different fellowships by both the Indian and Canadian governments. It is also a bi-national network of leading academic institutions, as a knowledge partner in generating linkages and collaborations that transcend the traditional system of cooperation”.
The Guest of Honour, Prof Syed Mohammad Hashim (Dean, Faculty of Arts) spoke on the importance of the conference.
He pointed out: Canada is a multicultural and multilinguistic society. They have a great deal of research on immigrants and their problems in settling down in new life; however, after reviewing it emerges that not much has been discussed on the problems and challenges faced by Indian Canadian immigrants and this conference has finally provided the platform to understand difficulties of many educated Indian professionals and students, who immigrate to Canada.
Prof Asim Siddiqui (Chairman, Department of English) talked about Canadian literature and the warm India-Canada relationship.
He emphasised how both the countries interchange their intellectual properties by teaching their language and literature and discussed effective ways to overcome communication problems.
Dr Prachi Kaul (Director, Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute) spoke on the contributions of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute in providing collaborative opportunities to scholars and teachers to mingle the intellectual and cultural delights of both the countries.
Prof Raashid Nehal (Conference Director) introduced the conference theme to over 200 participants.
He elucidated the role of interpersonal communication in bringing people of the two countries closer.
Prof Raashid also extended the vote of thanks in the inaugural session.
Later in the day, Prof S Imtiaz Hasnain (Department of Linguistics) chaired the first business session o the conference on ‘Health and Interpersonal Communication’ in which the panelist, Dr Syed Mohsin Alvi (CEO and Founder of Symbian Health, Boston, USA) pointed out that poor communication skills of immigrants can become a hindrance in reaching out for health care.
He discussed the plans of Symbian Health, Boston in digital healthcare, specifically for war hit countries like Ukraine.
Dr Abida Zameer (Consultant, Pharmaceutical Companies in Greater Boston Area Halifax Canada) delineated ‘Technology and Interpersonal Communication’.
She spoke on interpersonal communication as the key for common grounds and discussed the impact of technology on communication.
“Non-verbal communication is equally important. Its aspects like proxemics, territorial space, kinesics, facial expressions and eye contact play significant roles during communication”, said Dr Abida.
Dr Abhijit Shukla (Group Lead, Immuno Oncology-Cancer vaccines Johnson and Johnson Philadelphia, USA) gave a talk on interpersonal communication challenges faced by cancer patients.
“According to various researches, the cost of unclear communication in clinical trials has resulted in more than 30 percent average dropout rate”, he added.
Dr Sohail Qureshi (Medical Oncologist, Fortis Hospital, New Delhi) concluded the discussion with a talk on ‘Empathising with Cancer Patients for Interpersonal Communication: An Indian Perspective’.