We’ve only just met, but I’m in love.
Right off the bat, I just want to tell you that I’m so grateful to you. Last year, I was among the tens of thousands of people that moved to Canada from around the world. Some, like me, were skilled workers. Some were students. Some were fleeing dangerous situations. Canada and Canadians welcomed us all with open arms.
It wasn’t easy to immigrate here though. There were many checks and balances during the thorough process to determine whether I would be a good fit for Canada and a positive contributor to the economy. The process ensured that I had the skills and experience that suited the 2017–2018 world, that I had the financial resources to hit the ground running, and that I don’t have a history of jay-walking in any country I’ve visited or lived in. The process wasn’t easy, but it was simple. As someone who went to University in the United States and worked there full-time for almost 5 years, I was still more than a decade away from any stable immigration status. That’s not common sense immigration policy. But I heart Canada for knowing that being pro-immigration isn’t just great for the immigrants, but it’s a great deal for Canada too. So thanks eh?
I couldn’t be more grateful. Being able to call Canada home is a BIG deal. It’s literally a dream come true. In 2017, as I spin the globe there’s literally no country on earth that I would rather want to call my home. I seriously owe you one.
I’m still finding my feet here in Canada. I have an apartment with cool roommates. Though I still figuring out how to get my health card, sign up for a bank account, discover businesses that are working on interesting and challenging problems, get a job, and figure out how to register a business in Canada. I’m sure it’ll all happen in due time.
Last year you celebrated 150 years since the confederation of Canada. Now I’m not gonna lie, I don’t know about the nuances of Canada’s confederation or even much of the country’s history yet. I don’t even really understand why we still have the queen on the currency. But hey — I’ve got some reading and learning to do about my new home.
The future beckons all of us. That’s why Canada150ish.com.
I’m starting Canada150ish because I want to be an active member of the community here in Toronto and express my gratitude for allowing me to be here. I know I’m not going to be content just going to work during the day, watching Netflix in the evening and repeating that. I want to experiment with ideas and projects that will attract more serendipity and adventure into my life while making a positive difference in our community.
Canada150ish is not a startup. I don’t know what Canada150ish will turn into, but it will be home to all my Canada-specific experiments. You can expect a combination of writing and technology. I will jot down some musings about my time here in Canada, and share any insights I have especially in contrast with my time in other countries. And, I mostly want this to be a space where I further refine my built-launch-test loop. Over the years, I’ve marveled at the magic of turning ideas into reality. It’s now cheaper than ever (usually free) before to do that. I have been doing that for several years now.
Since Canada is my new home Canada150ish an honest attempt to use my skills, time and resources to Make Canada umm… Great Again? No, that didn’t come out right. Wait… I have an idea.
Let me flush out what I have simmering in my mind about Canada150ish right now:
- Is there a better way to search for housing in Toronto? Padmapper wasn’t alright. Kijiji wasn’t of any value whatsoever. It was a spray and pray approach on craigslist that ultimately did the trick.
- How can we bring the tech community in Toronto closer together? I read Abdullah Snobar’s blog post in the HuffPost that Toronto’s tech community doesn’t collaborate or bounce ideas off of one another enough — and is essential to allow the tech ecosystem to innovate and flourish. This challenge requires a multi-pronged solutions from many angles, but I’m sure there are some low hanging fruits that a weekend of coding could help enable.
- Am I the only one that struggles with Kijiji’s UX? It’s inexplicably confusing.
- What are some little known gems in our city that we wish more people knew about? Bars, coffee shops, co-working spaces, ramen restaurants, poutine toppings, etc.
- “Humans Of New York” but different.
- CP24 but for the internet? Every time I find myself staring at CP24, it seems to have the same information. It’s cold, there were a few accidents, some injured, and Trump said something silly. Now surely we can do a better job of packaging and spreading parts of this information online. I’m curious to discover APIs and other sources of data that can be converted into chatbots and simple websites to make life easier.
- Aggregator of news, events, etc… I think there’s something here. I first need to figure out the Canadian sources of information that are worth aggregating. This can’t be too general though. It has to be niche aggregators.
- The world definitely needs more Canada. I wonder how we can make that happen — at scale?
- Now that Tim Horton’s heirs are punishing their workers for Ontario’s minimum wage hike, does it make sense to boycott them? Would that ultimately help or hurt the workers? All decisions eventually come down to money. If Tim’s loses more money from the “boycott” than these higher cost of doing business, then they would quickly rollback for financial reasons and also enjoy the positive PR of the rollback. By the way, I’m writing this at a Tim Horton’s. Unfortunately this hasn’t isolated to Tim Horton’s, other businesses in Ontario have also followed suit.
- As awesome as the Canada’s healthcare system is, I was surprised to find that “walk-in clinics” aren’t really “walk-in clinics.” Because you can’t simply walk in and see a doctor. “We do booked walk-ins,” said the receptionist over the phone to me. I was so confused. It’s not a walk-in, if you need to schedule it. Walk-in clinics in the States at least have a few hours a day where you can literally just walk-in. Not here apparently.
- The most disappointing thing about Canada so far: Not all cops are Mounties. I really thought all cops would be Mounties up here.
- Oh yes! One more thing. How am I supposed to know that Yonge is pronounced Young? And Quay is pronounced Key? I was so curious to figure out how “Yonge” is pronounced that I asked my taxi driver on my way into the city from the airport. Quay, on the other hand, took a while.
- Speaking of Quay… I’m really excited about Google’s Sidewalk Labs Quayside neighborhood here. I’ve heard India talk about “smart cities” for the past several years and struggle to even agree upon what a smart city is. Most cities don’t even have regular garbage pickups or sidewalks, let alone anything close to how “smart” the Sidewalk Labs initiative here.
By the way, you are welcome to take any of these ideas and run with it if you want. Or get in touch and we can work together to write, build or brainstorm things further.
That’s it for now.
If you are reading this, please say hi. You can tweet, comment below or email me at amrit dot sharma at gmail dot com. When I moved to Toronto, I literally knew only five people: my best friend from high school had just started his PhD at UofT, a couple friends from grade 3 who have lived here for a long time, a friend from university, and Justin Trudeau. Now I know a handful of more people, and I look forward to meeting you too.
Drop me a note and say hi. 👋