How Moses became a pharmacist in Canada
February 2, 2023
When Moses Ojemakinde immigrated to Canada in 2006, he thought he would continue working as a pharmacist—after all, he had a 23-year career in the profession in Nigeria.
It wasn’t until Moses, his wife, and their three teenaged children arrived in Calgary that he realized his certifications from Nigeria didn’t mean anything in his new country, even though he arrived through the Federal Skilled Workers Program.
So, Moses walked into several pharmacies, looking for training opportunities. “I remember one owner looked me in the eye and said, ‘You are not a pharmacist.’”
Over the next three years, Moses studied for the required licensing exams. He also got a job working nights at a Shoppers Drug MartTM location in Calgary as a merchandiser.
“I was not involved in any social activities—nothing but sleep, eat, go to work, because I needed to make money to support my family, and study.”
In 2009, Moses finally became a pharmacist in Canada.
“I was so relieved,” he says. “Putting on my pharmacist jacket again, I regained confidence. For three years, I felt like I’d lost my personality. It’s like I was sub-human. I wanted so badly to set an example for my children.”
In 2015, a new opportunity came Moses’ way – his Associate approached him with a question.
“She asked if I wanted to become an Associate-Owner myself, and if I did, she would support me,” he says. “I couldn’t believe it.”
With her encouragement, Moses became the owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart location in Strathmore, about 50 kilometres from Calgary.
“I’ve been so lucky to have good mentors at Shoppers,” Moses says. “Both of my Associates believed in me when I didn’t have any Canadian experience.”
In his early days in Canada, he remembers with frustration, that many potential employers took one look at him—or heard his Nigerian accent—and turned him away.
“I’m a Black minority, and I do think my race and appearance played into my early challenges in Canada,” he says. “People would tell me I had no Canadian experience, but how was I supposed to get that experience without someone taking a chance on me and offering to train me?”
As an Associate-Owner, Moses has made sure to train many new pharmacists at his store. “People who are new to Canada have something to offer,” he says. “But we need to be given a chance to show that—to prove ourselves.”
Moses feels proud of how he and his family have thrived in Canada. His children are grown, with careers of their own, and he made his way back to the profession he loves.