Almost 10 years ago, on a cold wintery Prince Edward Island day, Nigerian-raised James Omowumi stepped off a plane at the Charlottetown Airport and never looked back.
James is a disability support case worker with the Department of Family and Human Services and is filled with enthusiasm for his job, which he describes as “the magic of driving home with the music blaring high because you have had a fulfilling day.”
James reflects on the road he has taken. At 18, he decided to go to university in North America and after first considering the USA, moved on to Canada. Someone he knew recommended either UPEI or St. Thomas University in Fredericton. He laughs as he says he made his decision based on the fact that he received UPEI’s brochure first and fell in love with the beautiful images of the Island.
It was tough at first moving from Lagos, a city with millions of people, to Charlottetown. James says he was homesick with no family and no friends on the Island. But he says, “People were friendly and very welcoming. I was invited to their homes and within a year or two; the Island was feeling like home.”
Fast forward 10 years and James is still here.
After graduating from UPEI with a major in economics, he began work as an intern at the Atlantic Technology Centre teaching people like seniors, immigrant children and job seekers how to use a computer. He was promoted to provincial coordinator of the Community Access Program, and moved from there to the provincial government’s internship program. As an intern, he carried out research for the diversity program for the Public Service of PEI.
Four-and-a half years ago, James went to work as an income support case worker, and 14 months ago, he began his current job.
Over the last decade, James has seen diversity growing at work and in the Island community. James has a seven year old daughter, Abbigale in French immersion at Stratford Elementary School.
“We live in a globalized society,” he says, “and the world is getting really small – not just for us, but for the kids growing up, including my daughter.”
He says diversity in the public service is very important as the more ideas and more variety of experiences that people have, the more it helps the product. He loves his job because his colleagues and manager encourage him to bring his world experience and idealism to work; he loves being in a position to help people and give back to the community that has given so much to him.
James’ family has visited him and he has gone back to Nigeria over the years, “I was there for 17 days last year, but I couldn’t wait to get back home – to Prince Edward Island. ”
Prince Edward Island enjoys a mix of different ethnicities, cultural groups, religions, sexual orientations, and abilities from all over the world. Learn more.