It seems only fitting that Gagandeep Gagneja would undertake an epic journey prior to joining Epic Opportunities.
Gagneja was born and raised in Jalandhar, a city in the state of Punjab in northwest India. He moved to Canada six years ago, captivated by the images of the Canadian people and land he glimpsed in movies and intrigued by the opportunities for growth the country had to offer.
A trained physiotherapist in his native India, Gagneja enrolled in classes at Centennial College outside of Toronto to have his credentials recognized in this country. While attending classes he began working part-time as a disability support worker for an agency that supported individuals with intellectual disabilities in the Scarborough region. It wasn’t long after that Gagneja realized he had found his calling.
“One of my personal beliefs is the equality of all people. Everyone has the right to be treated equally. Working with people with intellectual disabilities I saw myself as a tool to help them and help make a difference in society,” he recalls.
Gagneja moved to Winnipeg the following year in 2012 where he became friends with someone who worked for Epic Opportunities and recommended he apply to the agency. He was hired a short time later as a casual support worker, a role he excelled in until accepting a position as Manager for two residential homes last year.
In his current role as Manager he helps in the hiring of staff, sets staffing schedules, assists with payroll, consults with the families of the five individuals living at the homes and makes sure all of the residents needs are met.
“Every day is different. I like that. I don’t like routine. It’s like a new adventure every day,” he says, laughing.
Coordinator Mallory Mitchell has served as a supervisor for Gagneja, both as a DSW and in his current role as manager. She says one of the qualities that has made him such an valuable member of the Epic Opportunities team is his ability to build relationships, both with his co-workers and with the people he supports.
“He’s so hard-working and such a genuine person,” Mitchell says.
“He has an innate ability to network with people and really values other people. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t respect Gagandeep. Everyone really values his leadership.”
Mitchell adds Gagneja has already had a significant impact in the relatively short time he’s been a manager. She says all five of the people at the two homes he manages have made remarkable strides in terms of connecting with the community and planning for the future. “It’s like night and day. That might not have been possible without Gagandeep in that role,” she adds.
When he’s not working, Gagneja enjoys going to the gym and playing cricket with friends. He also has a keen interest in culture and languages and hopes to one day study French and Spanish.
Perhaps the only downside to his excellent Canadian adventure has been not getting to share it with family. That will soon change as his older sister Gurpreet, her husband and their two children are moving to Winnipeg later this year. While he’s definitely eager to reconnect with his sibling, he’s also looking forward to enjoying her cooking.
“I suck at cooking,” he says, laughing. “I’m a survival cook. I used to call my mom back home to get her help.”