On the day he arrived in Canada on June 7, 2007, Cst. Fredrick Mubiru wore long pants, a hat and a winter coat — not knowing how cold it might be. Upon arrival at the airport, Mubiru claimed asylum after fleeing his native country of Uganda.
"I had different ideas about politics, governance and the oppressive laws that put me at odds with the Ugandan government," says Mubiru, who flew to Canada for his personal safety.
Finally safe from harm, Mubiru started a new life in Ottawa. Within a year, he had a high school and college diploma and was supporting himself with a job at a nursing home.
But starting over wasn't easy for Mubiru, who became a permanent resident in 2009, two years after arriving in Canada.
"I went through a very hard time," says Mubiru, who got in touch with a local Ugandan pastor who mentored him through the transition. "It helped a lot to have somebody who had gone through the same journey take me around, encourage me and pray for me."
Looking to the future
Adjusting to his new life meant Mubiru had to learn English, find work and use a computer for the first time. Despite the learning curve, Mubiru succeeded and became a Canadian citizen in 2014. Four years later, he joined the RCMP.
Today, he works general duty with the Digby RCMP detachment in Nova Scotia. Whenever there's an opportunity, he tells new Canadians that becoming a Mountie is within reach for them.
"Traditional recruitment techniques aren't always effective for immigrant communities because these campaigns are usually on the Internet, social media or TV," says Mubiru. "Immigrants don't always have immediate access to those."
Mubiru says he only found out the RCMP was hiring when he started looking for work online using a public computer at the library. It's where he spent time between English classes, school and work.
Finances can be another roadblock for immigrants, says Mubiru. His first attempt at joining law enforcement was applying to another agency, which didn't require Canadian citizenship. After failing the second part of the process, he couldn't afford to keep paying the $400 application fee.
But applying to the RCMP is free and Mubiru started the recruitment process as soon as he became a Canadian citizen.
He says he was surprised when a lot of people from the immigrant community told him not to bother. But Mubiru pressed on and passed the entrance exam on his third try.
"Sometimes people who have tried in life and have not been successful can feed you with negativity, and negativity is contagious," he says.
Mubiru says he sees that mindset among some immigrants and he's trying to change it. He frequently invites people to contact him if they have questions or need career advice.
His approach seems to be working. Of those he's mentored, Mubiru says six are at various points in the RCMP recruiting process.
Though there aren't many immigrants in Digby, Mubiru says he's doing what he can to encourage people in the community who can relate to the challenges he once faced.
"If you're a Canadian, give it a shot," he says. "You can make it."