What Canada Means to Me Firdosh Bulsara, General Manager, Product and Marketing for Victours.
by Martha Chapman
Where do you live? In Mississauga, Ont., near Toronto. I’ve lived there since 1989.
Where were you born? In central India, in a city called Indore. When I was 4 we moved to Kenya, because my parents had a business there. I had to return to India for boarding school and college, where I studied commerce and business.
When did you come to Canada? Interesting story. I came in 1981 to learn how to fly, and was accepted at a flying school in Kitchener-Waterloo. When I finished there, I was unable to find a job flying, but thought I’d like to stay in travel so I bought Landy Travel in Scarborough.
Why Canada? I had applied to three or four schools in the U.S., Canada and Australia, and Waterloo-Wellington was the one which accepted me. Luckily, I had relatives in the area.
What were your first impressions? That people were very friendly. The instructor was outstanding. I quite liked it until I hit the first winter, when the thought process was: how was I going to get through this year? It was a record-setting winter – down to minus 61! That was the experience of a lifetime! But on the whole, I have fond, fond memories of the area.
What was your 1st job here? Running the agency. Before coming to Canada I’d worked for Pan Am and BA in Yemen, Iran and India for 12 years in all so I was familiar with the industry. At Landy I started a wholesale division as well.
What do you appreciate most about being Canadian? The best thing is that I can stand tall no matter what my background and do business with anyone. That to me is quite a delight. People have been welcoming and accommodating and I thoroughly enjoy negotiating with Canadians.
If you could live anywhere in Canada, where would it be? Without doubt Toronto. I’ve travelled to all the places in Canada that need to be seen, including the wonderful west and east coasts. But to me life in Toronto is perfect. The fast pace here really suits me.
What do you think would make Canada an even better place? We should be stronger on the international scene. The majority of our problems are because we are very reliant on one or two resources for our economy and we need more in terms of manufacturing and businesses that can move internationally. Sometimes our dollar value holds us back. We have so many resources, my god, in terms of technology, oil and more.
How do you traditionally spend Canada day? In 1992 or 1993 when my boys were Cub Scouts and my wife was a leader, we started a tradition that all of the families of the Cubs would come to a Canada Day barbecue at our house. And it has continued, though those Cub Scouts are now parents themselves and bring their kids. We have 50 or 60 people in our back yard every year!
What do you think you’d be doing if you had remained in India? I started my career doing airport meet-and-greets back in 1971 so probably I’d still be in the travel business in some capacity. But I wouldn’t change my life for the world.