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I am a storyteller, film enthusiast, photographer, IT manager, extrovert and immigrant living in Montreal, although my story began halfway around the world.

Başak Büyükçelen

Başak Büyükçelen

I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, where I developed my passion for film after starting a career in finance. As an aspiring filmmaker, I produced and directed a number of films, honing my craft as I went. I always tried to push the envelope and tell stories that would resonate and inspire, not only entertain.

One such example is a three-part film series that explored the sexual oppression of women. For reasons I won’t go into here, I was forced to put the entire project on hold. And, as I was already planning to leave Turkey and finish editing the film in Canada, I decided to go ahead with my plans and come to Canada anyway, and not go back.

I guess you could say I started over when I arrived here. I knew no one, and although I was educated with some “real world experience,” none of it mattered in Canada. I didn’t speak the language, my diploma from a Turkish university was not recognized, I had no “Canadian” experience, and as a result, I couldn’t get a job.

Needless to say, this was a blow to me. I didn’t know what to do other than work my ass off to get out of the cycle I found myself in. This involved taking classes to learn French, applying for incredibly low paying jobs, and working wherever I could in order to pay my rent.

That hard work paid off and I was able to land a job at an international gaming company. Granted, I had no gaming experience, but wouldn’t you know, they needed someone who spoke Turkish!

From there, I was able to work my way up, first in the same company and then, transferring my skills to another organization. Now, I run the operations of a mission driven education technology company.

When I look back to where I came from, I realize that my journey was long, difficult and unpredictable. But, it’s a journey I am grateful for taking because it brought me to where I am today.

And although my experiences are not unique, I am stronger because of what I learned on my journey. Now, I want to take those lessons and use them for good, in a way that will help others who were like me upon their arrival in Canada: terrified, excited and determined to succeed.