Every immigrant comes to Canada with visions of achieving success and stability, says Dr. Ehiedu Osemiha, who left Nigeria with his wife and son in 2014.
But for Osemiha, a dentist in the Nigerian Air Force who narrowly escaped a terrorist attack, the dream of qualifying as a dentist in Canada seemed almost too elusive to hope for.
“Leaving Nigeria for Canada was like jumping into the ocean, hoping to catch a goldfish,” says the genial 42-year-old, known by the nickname “Chuks.”
It took great perseverance, but on May 23, Osemiha caught his fish. He walked across the U of M convocation platform to receive his doctor of dental medicine degree. “I’ve reached the end of the whole struggle,” he says.
Now a Canadian citizen, he is practising at a downtown Winnipeg clinic two days per week, and in Portage la Prairie three days per week.
“Everyone says, ‘Chuks, you smile a lot!’ I say, ‘Yeah! I’m happy to be here, and every day is part of the happiness.’”
The International Dentist Degree Program (IDDP) at the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences was Osemiha’s pathway to Canadian accreditation. Each year, it accepts a handful of foreign-trained dentists, adding them to an existing class for the final two years of the four-year degree program.