Career counsellor’s book helps newcomers

Multifaceted author Paul Atanya’s new book, Destination Canada: Tools for Success

There is a career practitioner in Calgary who has juiced out 20 years of his entire experience and expertise into a book, called Destination Canada: Tools for Success, with the sole aim of helping qualified immigrants find their professional footing in Canada.

We are talking about the multifaceted Paul Atanya, a certified career development professional, who works for immigrant-serving agency Centre for Newcomers in Calgary. Using the adjective “multifaceted” is not an overstatement — besides being a career professional and an author, Atanya is an accomplished musician and a philanthropist.

Atanya’s childhood in Sudan and Uganda were difficult and his journey as an immigrant from South Sudan to Canada has been inspirational. Music played a key (no pun intended) role in his final settlement to Calgary.

“I consider my mom to be my hero. She is the reason who I am today. My mother knew the importance of education even though she herself had never been into formal training or studies. She sold her goat to pay for the cost of my uniform and supported me throughout my primary schooling days in Uganda,” he recalls.

After schooling and briefly holding a job with UNICEF, Atanya moved to Nova Scotia, Canada, on student visa in 1989. While still a student in Halifax (he has his bachelor’s and master’s from Dalhousie University), Atanya was invited over to Calgary by a group of rookie musicians, who wanted to learn how to professionally play the thumb piano (finger piano) known by many African names — lokemi, mbira, kalimba, atiolog. That was in 1997. Calgary has been Atanya’s home ever since.

Passion to help newcomers and immigrants

With a passion to help newcomers and immigrants, Atanya took up a job as a career counsellor in Calgary. On the side, he kept writing stories and books. The first one was a fictional short story, “John Fellows,” in the anthology Oh, What A Character in 2009. In 2012, he wrote a book Bloodshed in Mana. This book is a part of a university literature syllabus in the Republic of South Sudan.

His latest book, Destination Canada: Tools for Success, was published this year and is available on Amazon.

New book Destination Canada

The book provides the tools and strategies an immigrant needs to make a smoother transition, integration and adaptation in Canada. Most importantly, the book can help a potential immigrant, in another country, to make an informed decision on his or her choice to immigrate (or not to immigrate) to Canada.

“Many immigrants come to this country based on hearsay and do not make an informed decision. Destination Canada is my first published book on immigration. In fact, this is a book of many topics condensed into one. The topics treated in this tome could be about four separate books. But I decided to compile them into one readable and easy-to-understand hardcover. It projects Canada, in the good and smart sense. The subject matter is based on facts, not hype,” he says and adds “Canada is a paradise on Earth.”

Atanya’s next work, Rwatamoe: a Name, a Character, and a Destiny, based on a true story, is expected to go to press in mid- to late September this year.

Though being out of Sudan for almost 30 years, Atanya has not forgotten his roots. He also manages his own charity, Lotukei Education Trust. Earlier, he helped build school infrastructure in South Sudan through a bottle drive in Canada.

When not counselling, writing or doing charity work, Atanya can be spotted singing and playing musical instruments. He leads the music band Kojo, which has performed in many concerts around Canada and the U.S.