01/07/2015 06:00 EST | Updated 03/09/2015 05:59 EDT

#New2MTL: Choosing a safe place for the next generation

Salman Ahmad and his wife had established professional careers for themselves in Lahore, Pakistan.

But when their six-year-old son Yasir was about to start school, they knew they had to make the move to Canada.

"Pakistan has limited opportunities for professional growth, education and living standards," said Ahmad.

"For the generations to come, we were thinking that we should look at a more advanced country where we could improve our life."

Every day this week, CBC's Daybreak will introduce you to a new Montrealer who packed up and moved across borders.

They came for a variety of reasons: to set up a business, to secure a better career, and for some like Ahmad, to ensure a more prosperous future for their family.

Listen to CBC Daybreak at 7:15 a.m. each day this week for stories from new Montrealers. Tune in on 88.5 FM/104.7 FM in the west end or online here.

Ahmad says personal safety was a factor in his family's decision to leave Pakistan.

While Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city, is generally safe, it has been the target of terrorist attacks.

In July 2013, a bomb blast in the Old Anarkali district killed five people and injured dozens more.

"It's not the safest country in the world anymore and there's everything you see in the news, which we were scared about," said Ahmad.

The road to Montreal

Settling in Montreal hasn't been a straightforward process.

Ahmad's original application to the Skilled Worker Program was rejected. He couldn't afford a lawyer to present his case in court, so he defended himself.

That impressed Canadian immigration lawyer David Cohen.

"He said he had never heard of someone defending themselves successfully," Ahmad said.

Within weeks, he had an offer to work in case management at Cohen's firm in Montreal.

Ahmad settled into the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood with his family, and says he's made connections in and outside the Pakistani community.

"We meet at the mosque for prayers, and we talk about events back home in Pakistan, and about new opportunities we've come across here," he said. 

The family's new life in Montreal has another silver lining: Ahmad's wife is pregnant with their second child.

"We were trying to have another child immediately but it happened that, after settling here, we received this wonderful surprise."


Follow our series on CBC Daybreak and on and share your advice for newcomers to the city on social media with the hashtag #New2MTL.

We'll gather the best responses and feature them in our coverage.