With one of the highest immigration rates per capita among developed nations, Canada says “migrants are welcome”, and offers newcomers a new life in the Great White North, though it can come with challenges of its own. We spoke to five newcomers about their experiences of relocating to Canada.
The best approach to finding a job
When looking for a job, a lack of work experience from Canada might be a challenge for newcomers. Nevena, originally from Serbia, decided to settle down in Toronto after three years of travelling around South East Asia.
"I have six years of experience as an ESL teacher, but I haven’t found a job yet. The education system is different here, so I have to get a provincial license to be able to start working as a teacher. Luckily, there are employment and training services for newcomers that make it easier."
Nilay, a finance professional who has moved to Canada together with his wife, had a different experience.
"My wife had worked in India before we came here - she landed a job offer after her first interview. It's not just your education and experience that make you valuable to employers, it's also your approach to the job market that sets you apart."
So, what's the best strategy for finding a job? Katarzyna, an HR specialist who moved to Alberta from Poland, offered a piece of advice.
"Research the employment market before arriving. Make sure that there are enough open positions in your field. Find out if you’ll need to get any local certifications to do your job here. Networking is also important in Canada, a lot of people get a job by referrals, so go to networking events when you arrive."
I did not expect this…
Savla, born and raised in Mumbai, migrated to Canada to seek a better quality of life. A pollution-free environment, high-quality education system, free healthcare and Canada’s natural beauty were factors that gave weight to his decision to relocate.
"It's a bonus that there are fewer people here compared to India," he laughed. "A big task for me was finding the right accommodation. My wife and I searched for places online and booked many viewings. We got turned down for lack of credit or for not having employment letters. I'd advise everyone to set aside at least two months to find a place and to act quickly - good places move out of the market fast."
"I found it surprising how expensive the phone plans are," added Sarah. "We found out that Canada has one of the most expensive phone plans in the world! Many companies don't offer good deals to migrants, as newcomers don't have enough credit history in the country. But some companies think of us - you just need to do the work to find one."
Oh, Canada, with glowing hearts we see thee rise
We were eager to find out what our newcomers enjoy about their Canadian experience.
"Boston Cream Donuts!" said Nevena with a smile on her face. "Besides that, I love the diversity of unique cultures and backgrounds and how it translates into every aspect of life here - food, art, festivals, schools and businesses," she added. "I read that English is a second language to almost fifty percent of people living in Canada! For example, in the Etobicoke West Mall neighbourhood, the second most common language is Serbian. I should go there to say hello. I mean, Dobar dan."
Canadians are known for being kind-natured, and newcomers agree that their reputation is well-deserved.
"People are so friendly, comforting, respectful and polite. You can approach them easily for any help that you need," said Savla.
Katarzyna has especially enjoyed the Canadian summertime.
"Summers are short in Canada, so you have to seize every opportunity to go out and explore the gorgeous nature! People are just out there doing things - camping, fishing, hiking, canoeing, riding a bike or having a picnic. I'm way more active than I've ever been!"
Any advice for fellow newcomers?
"Try to stay positive and organised, even when you feel overwhelmed. Make a list of all the things you need to do and join government programs. Take some time to get to know the city and enjoy it," Nevena replied.
Sarah's advice is to make new friends as soon as possible.
"Throw yourself out there - don't postpone meeting new people. Look for clubs or communities to join - or follow Facebook groups for newcomers. Don't let anything get in the way; Canada a great place to live, and you will thoroughly enjoy it."
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