From Tanzania to India to Canada’s corridors of power, Deepak Obhrai’s inspirational immigrant journey
Deepak Obhrai is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Calgary East and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Born in Tanzania, he attended school there as well as in India and the United Kingdom.
He talks of having driven cabs, of being turned down when he applied for jobs because he was of the visible minority.
Obhrai is proud of the fact that he has risen through the ranks. Community work helped him build a support base and his know-ledge of, and involvement in, issues immigrants face drew him into the political arena.
The issues that matter to his constituents are the ones that matter to all Canadians – health care, education, safer streets and lower taxes. He says, “When you talk about issues and politics that need to be changed, you need to be inside to make an impact. I believe you have to be inside to effect a change.”
His success might lead one to assume that he didn’t experience the immigrant reality, but, setting the record straight, he says he faced tremendous odds.
“I drove cabs; I drove buses; I went to school to upgrade my skills.”
He went into business, starting a dry-cleaning store with his wife Neena and expanding it to four.
But all the while, he stayed active in community work. He became president of the India-Canada Association of Calgary.
“That was my first-ever elected office. I had to campaign for it!” he laughs.
Obhrai has two daughters, Preeti and Kajal, and a son, Aman.
“My children are very aware of local, national and global issues, says Obhrai. “They are very active in community work while being successful in their respective careers. We are a very strong family. My family is my biggest support.”