Each welcome pack distribution, I meet different sets of newly-arrived immigrants and every opportunity that I get to have a chat with some of them I always ask them how they are and how they are adjusting to their new home. Some will share happy stories, some have exciting ones and some of them have unpleasant experiences already.
This inspired me to come up with a series of post that will feature stories from people who travelled the “immigrant journey.” Their struggles, their triumphs and where they are now. And because 2017 is Canada’s celebration of its 150th anniversary of Confederation, I thought of reaching out to 150 immigrants (hopefully). I will feature 5 stories in each post until I complete the 150 stories, I am hoping that before the end of 2017 (that’s why I am counting on my online friends to help me) I will be able to complete this goal.
In this first installment, I’ll start with stories of people I personally know. Read on and find out how they travelled their “immigrant journey.”
Service Representative, CSI Logistics, Brampton, Ontario
Bernadette is a family friend and I’ve known her from the Philippines. She arrived in Brampton in August 2009 through the family sponsorship program.
Before obtaining her Canadian citizenship, Bernadette had her own story of how she adjusted to her new life in Canada. For her, the most challenging part is when she just came and had to start all over again. She needs to adjust to her new environment and new culture, she needs to learn to eat food that she was not familiar with and have to get a new job and make new friends.
Coming from a country, which has either dry season or wet season only, she considers her endurance to the cold weather in Canada and surviving the past 8 winter seasons to be her success story.
Her tips to other immigrants, “Move forward. We all know that start up is always the hardest part. But it does not make sense to have chipped in your shoulders. We have all been there; having nice jobs back home before we migrated; nice circle of friends and families that’s so hard and sickening sad to leave behind. But remember, they are the reasons why we want to survive and move forward. They should serve as our inspiration to make living in Canada worthwhile. They are our source of power, motivation and energy to survive long winter days, long days at work, and that struggling feeling of missing them beside you. If you do not move forward, you will get stuck in that limbo and have old stories to tell, and you will start to annoy people who listens to your stories of old days and old ways. Move on, move forward, get new stories and get a new life. God gave you a once in a life opportunity to enjoy Canada life. Use it to your advantage.”
Training Coordinator, WRHA, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Mignon’s family moved to Canada in 1990, she was just five year old during hat time. At her young age it’s hard for her to remember what her family went through when they first came to Canada. “I didn’t notice any challenges when we moved here because I was still young then. But as I got older, I started to realize that there are times that my parents were struggling with finances because during that time it was only my dad who was working full time and he didn’t have a choice but to take a job with a lower salary as he could not practice in the same field that he completed in the university in the Philippines,” Mignon recalled.
Now that she is of age and have a stable job, she considers graduating from university to be a part of her success story. She now owns a house. She is independent and secured financially to not only support herself but is able to help her parents and siblings.
Being in Canada for 27 years, Mignon learned to appreciate a lot of good things in living in Canada but the best part for her is the freedom that people enjoys in this country as well as the people, the culture and most of all the diversity and multiculturalism in Canada, that people enjoys equal celebration of racial, religious and cultural backgrounds.
Office Assistant, Real Estate Development & Property Management Company , Winnipeg, Manitoba
Andrea came to Canada with her husband through the provincial nominee program. Though she only have 2 cousins who are both in Winnipeg, she and her husband know a lot of friends from the Philippines who are also in Canada. They came to Canada in April of 2011. It was already spring but they needed to wear winter jacket because the temperature was still too cold for them. For her, “it was Canada’s way of welcoming us and telling us to brace ourselves for an ever-changing weather.”
When asked about the most challenging part of moving to Canada, like other immigrants, it is that part that they are starting life again from scratch. She added, “Basically, we have to build everything from the ground up so to speak. We have to find a place to live, we have to look for a job, we have to open bank accounts and build a credit history and we have to adjust to a totally new way of life.” Aside from this, its is also heart-breaking for Andrea and her husband to leave their families in the Philippines behind, knowing that they cannot be with them to celebrate all those important occasions and milestones like birthdays and anniversaries or they cannot even be with them in times of problems and trials.
Andrea and her husband consider becoming Canadian citizens from being only permanent residents as one of the greatest triumphs that they have had since moving to Canada. For them, the best thing about moving and living in Canada is that they are able to extend support and assistance to their families and bring them joy by sending them little gifts and token from Canada and other places they visited. By doing such, they are letting them experience a taste of Canada even just through those simple gifts. She even added that, “My husband and I consider being able to travel and explore this beautiful country with its magnificent natural resources as one of the best things of living in Canada.”
Purchasing & Admin. Officer, Design Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba
As of this writing, Cynthia is celebrating her fourth year anniversary in Canada. She came to Canada in March 2013, just in time when winter season was about to end. She was one of those determined and independent single lady who decided to move to a foreign country even by herself. Though she has aunts and uncles in Winnipeg she still considered her move to be a difficult decision for the reason that she had to leave her then fiancé (now husband) and her family behind considering that she is from a closed-knit family. Knowing that it will take a long time for her to get a chance to see her loved-ones again, she was so emotional during her first months. And each time she is drawn with sadness she would tell herself that “being away from them is just temporary, being in Canada alone is normal and I will be fine soon.” True enough, being by herself in Canada was a temporary phase for her, after getting married in the Philippines and a few months of being apart as married couple, Cynthia’s husband finally joined her in Winnipeg in 2016.
If you’ll ask Cynthia her view about living in Canada, here’s what she will tell you: “I consider being here and living here in Canada as a success already. It was my dream to go abroad and it’s also my father’s dream for me to live in another country. I feel that when I left the Philippines for Canada, somehow, I made him proud, because a lot of people may have Canadian dream but not everyone is given a chance to come and live in Canada.” Cynthia believes that life is what you make it, hence, people’s view about what is the best thing about living in Canada could be subjective, what she is focused on is to always do her best in every opportunity that comes, this will be her bridge to having the best experiences that she and her husband can have in living in Canada.
Senior Financial Analyst, Supermarket Chain Company, Winnipeg, Manitoba
I met Rosalyn online, while preparing for their family’s move from Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to Winnipeg, Google pointed her to Momsie’s Circle blog and that is where we started to connect. We had a few female exchanges until I received the news from her that she and her family got their permanent resident visa. Since they still need to arrange and settle what they are leaving behind in Dubai, they first came to Canada for a weeklong stay only, they tried to look for a place where they will stay, school where the kids will attend and other things that they need for their move. It was June 2016 when they arrived in Winnipeg to stay permanently.
For Rosalyn, the most difficult situation that she and her husband have encountered was how to conquer their fear of the unknown. When they received their permanent resident visa, they have doubts with the decision that they made, they both have a good-paying job in Dubai and they are able to bring their 2 children with them and they are faced with the situation that they need to decide if they are moving to a place where they do not have a single relative and faced with uncertainty if they will also get a good-paying job.
Since it was less than a year since they moved to Canada, Rosalyn considers that they are still on their way to success, but she is very glad that they have settled smoothly in Canada. She believed that proper planning helped them to settle successfully. She narrated that, “Before moving, I spent time searching information about Canada and reading blogs related to challenges & success of immigrants which gave me insights how I can prepare for our move. And when we arrived, I realized the reason why this place is called Friendly Manitoba is because it was not hard to find people in Winnipeg who are willing to help new immigrants like us. I met people who did not have second thoughts in extending their help. I met someone here in Winnipeg, while I was still in Dubai she would send me job postings in the company she worked for, she helped me submit my job application and became my reference person, hence, I am lucky to get a job that is related to my profession in less than a month after my family and I moved to Canada.”
When asked what is the best thing in living in Canada for her, her answer is “Aside from the health and medical benefits. And the best thing I love in Canada is the work life balance, which is even encouraged by the company I work with. So now I enjoy more time with my kids…”