Our role models play an important part in shaping our dreams and ambitions

Close to a million people of Indian origin currently live in Canada. Since Indians first started to immigrate, several million have called Canada home. Of these numbers, at least many hundreds of thousands are highly educated -- doctors, engineers, computer specialists, scientists, journalists, writers -- but working in factories, warehouses, at pizza shops, driving trucks.

True, this is because many of them lack opportunities. But it's also because I've witnessed many more of them suffer from a lack of confidence. They are highly educated and talented, but at some point in their lives, they've allowed negative feedback or adverse situations to undermine their self-esteem, and these factors have continued to affect their performance and ongoing success.

I myself had for several years been writing in Punjabi community newspapers, but one day I picked up the Toronto Sun and, while idly flipping the pages, came upon the editorial staff column -- and the name Adrienne Batra leaped out. Batra is an Indian name. Curious, I Googled the name. And, upon learning more about her, I felt proud that one more among our community members is sitting at the top table, in the mainstream media, where most of the Indian community and journalists stay away from, leaving it mostly to community leaders and government officials.

Personally speaking, that discovery spelled a profound change for me as well. From that day forth, I put it in my mind that I would learn from Adrienne's example. I too would strive tirelessly to work and write for the mainstream newspapers.

I struggled not for a day or two, or a month or two, but for years. And I was eventually rewarded with my first column in the Toronto Sun in April 2010. Nor did my struggle end there, since I had to keep proving myself afresh with the many comment page editors, who kept changing, and sought to convince them that I was worth a try.

Since then many of my stories have gotten published in the Toronto Sun, Mississauga News, Brampton Guardian, and many more mainstream newspapers. But my experience underlines the fact that our role models play an important part in shaping our dreams and ambitions.

There are many reasons why many of us lack confidence at work. Maybe they think the job requires skills they lack, or that they have less experience than other Canadians. Or, being new to the country -- or the company -- they feel uneasy about their ability to succeed. That confidence only comes when you set your life goal or pick a role model as I did.

Which brings me, Adrienne Batra. She is a Canadian journalist who has been the editor-in-chief at the Toronto Sun since May 2015. But she too had to keep working hard every step of the way to the top.

Batra is from Saskatchewan. Her parents were teachers who had immigrated to Canada from India in 1967. Shortly after, Adrienne was born.

After graduating from high school in 1991, Batra joined the Canadian Reserves where she obtained the rank of Lieutenant. After obtaining university degrees in political science and the public administration she joined the Regina office of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation as a researcher, eventually becoming its Manitoba director.

She and her husband moved to Toronto in 2008 and, during the 2010 mayoral election, Batra worked as communications director on Rob Ford's successful campaign for mayor. She subsequently joined the mayor's office, serving as Ford's press secretary for a year until she moved on in December 2011 to become the Toronto Sun's Comment Editor. She also became CFRB Newstalk 1010's municipal affairs correspondent and wrote a column in the Sun on municipal affairs.

In November 2013, she joined the Sun News Network as host of Straight Talk, an afternoon news and comment program, and took a leave of absence from her position as a Sun comment editor, though continuing as a columnist, in order to work for the network full-time until the channel went off the air in February 2015. She was the fill-in host on CFRB radio as its weekday afternoon "Live Drive" host.

Batra rejoined the Toronto Sun staff in May 2015 to become the paper's editor-in-chief.

She is today the pride of the Indian community. But she didn't get to where she is today without working hard -- and, perhaps more importantly, believing in herself and her abilities. This self-confidence is important if we are to progress in life.

We too must learn from her example and follow in the footsteps of our role models. I urge Indian journalists and writers: don’t think you are any less. You need to think positive and build your self-confidence if you too are to sit at the top table.


Our role models play an important part in shaping our dreams and ambitions

Surjit Singh Flora is a veteran journalist and freelance writer based in Brampton.
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