An enduring legacy. Meet our founder.
Mr. Salim M. Sindhu was born in Pakistan and obtained his bachelor of Civil Engineering. Before he immigrated to Canada in 1974, he was a Civil Engineer by profession.
After about 3 months of his arrival in Canada, he realized that his qualifications were not accepted by the employers. However, he was never discouraged. He continued to receive education to bring his qualification to Canadian standard and acceptance. He attended full-time and part-time courses at SAIT. and University of Calgary from 1975 until 1988 and finally obtained a postgraduate Diploma in Energy Management from SAIT. After receiving his first certificate in Engineering from SAIT. in 1976, he worked for federal and provincial governments and private sector as an Engineer until 1987. From 1978 until 1987, Salim volunteered and involved with many organizations such as Calgary Immigrant Aid Society, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, and Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association to help in the Host Program, provided one-on-one assistance as well as administrative work with the goal of helping new immigrants to settle in Canada.
In 1987, Salim started his own consulting business in Immigration. On June 21, 1988, with the help of few friends, he co-founded The Calgary Society for Immigrant Workers to help immigrants particularly residing in S.E. quadrant of the city in learning English language and computer as well as finding employment. On April 4, 1991, the name of the Society was changed to Calgary Immigrant Development & Educational Advancement Society (Calgary I.D.E.A.S.), which fully comprehended the programs and services we offered. With the approval of the Board of Directors, Salim further changed Calgary I.D.E.A.S. to its present name as Calgary Immigrant Educational Society (CIES.) on August 2, 2001.
Besides offering regular programs and services to newcomers, immigrants and economically disadvantaged Calgarians, Salim took the courage to explore other possibilities. He pioneered many programs and services such as “Drop-in ESL Program” in 1988 and its curriculum is still used province wise. Another innovative service was the “Unemployment Insurance Intake Program” for immigrants. In 1992, Salim also introduced computers as a tool for the ESL students to learn English language and find jobs. In 1995, Salim launched the computer and accounting programs among the non-profits so that learners could place their feet in these fields. In 1997, Salim initiated a “Computers for Kids” Program with the main objective to keep kids off the streets and make good use of the time to learn and explore something new through computers. In the same year, Salim started a brand new program, which no other non-profit organization had provided before and that was the “Taiwanese Program”, which included 1) providing resources and information regarding Canada to prospective Taiwanese immigrants; 2) recruiting and sending Canadian ESL teachers to Taiwan for teaching; and 3) sending trainers to Taiwan to train their ESL teachers. In 1999, Salim pioneered the “Clerical Training Program”, which is still a very overwhelming program. In 2004, an “Enhanced Language Training for Immigrant Professionals” was introduced and due to the expertise we had in language training in previous years, it was a very successful program for two years! In 2005, Salim realized there was a service gap for new immigrants and refugees who were pre-literate in the English language or had extremely limited literacy skills; therefore, he introduced the “Basic English and Literacy Program”.
In 1998, Board of Directors decided to construct Society’s own building so as to avoid paying high rent. Within five years, Salim raised $2.2 million for the purchase of land and building construction. The S.E. main building located in Forest Lawn was officially opened in October 2003 and by November 2005, the building became debt-free – a place that belongs to the immigrants in Calgary.
In 2009, in view of our expanding programs and services, Salim led the way to construct a second office building located in N.E., namely “Welcome Centre for New Immigrants”. With much effort in fund-raising, Salim managed to purchase a piece of land and started the building construction in 2010. The Welcome Centre was officially opened in July 2012.
In light of growing demand for its services, CIES expanded to a third facility at Westwinds, also in Calgary’s northeast, which began operations August 2018.
Salim’s diverse talents had put him into different areas of helping his fellow immigrants settle in this new country. Throughout the years, although he was the Executive Director of Calgary Immigrant Educational Society, he still found time out of his busy schedule to volunteer mainly in the following areas:
- Passages to Canada: he provided regular visits to schools and institutions and through his own experiences, he gave speeches to young people regarding motivation to success, etc.
- United Way of Calgary and Area: he was on the Committee and also volunteered as the “Ambassador of the Way”, going to the corporate sector explaining United Way’s funding policy and how their donations would benefit the entire community.
- Dominion Institute of Canada: he was the public speaker for this organization and gave numerous speeches.
- Volunteer Sector Initiative of Citizenship & Immigration Canada (VSI of CIC): he was a delegate from Alberta Immigrant Sector of VSI of CIC Consultation. He served as a member of the Immigration Policy Committee. He worked on the committee for two years and presented his policy papers to National Conference of VSI in Calgary in October 2003.
Salim also partook in other works to benefit the immigrant community. He supervised a study entitled, A Study of Communication Skills Needs of Immigrant Workers in Selected Calgary Industries (1990), as well as A Study of the Needs and Problems of Senior Immigrants of South Asian Origin Living in Calgary (1993), the latter from which recommendations were taken and implemented in later years. The former proved invaluable to immigrants who realized the impact absence of the English language had on their daily lives. In his spare time, Salim was an active writer in different newspapers for writing the challenges that the new immigrants especially the immigrant professionals encountered.
Every day, his compassion and zeal for the work of the Society and his volunteer work to help immigrants shone through. He had silently devoted an enormous part of his life to the betterment of others and deserved to be fully recognized for his contribution.
Therefore, in 1992, Salim received “Mayor Award” for his volunteer work. In 2003, Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency the Honorable Adrienne Clarkson, awarded Salim “Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award” for his community service. In 2005, Government of Alberta awarded Salim the “Centennial Medal” and in the same year, he received “Star of the Millennium – Volunteer Award” from Wild Rose Foundation. Salim had dedicated his life to help fellow immigrants in their settlement process in a new adoptive country.