The Canadian Immigration Taboo: Those Who Go Back Home


Gatineau, February 2012

Each year, about 250,000 immigrants from all around the world are granted permanent residence in Canada. For most of these newcomers, it’s the beginning of a new life after a several month-long or even several year-long wait.

And each year, an undisclosed number of permanent residents decide to go back home. Each immigrant has its own reason for kissing the “Canadian dream” goodbye, and these reasons are sometimes hard to express. Some immigrants are ashamed of going home, some are bullied into thinking that they didn’t try hard enough, and other are so resentful that nothing constructive comes out of their comments.

All immigrants go through a phase in which they hate Canada. Sometimes it happens during the lengthy immigration process: it’s hard to keep faith when you have to deal with so many administrative requirements, and when your life is pretty much put on hold waiting for someone to take a decision about your future. When I was into the process, I clearly remembered thinking that if my application was sent back to me again, I was heading back to France because I was sick and tired of that nonsense.

The rejection stage can also occur after the “honeymoon period”, when reality kicks in. Yes, Canada is fucking cold (or fucking humid, depending on the season). Yes, some Canadians don’t like immigrants. Yes, some employers are narrow-minded. Yes, the food may have been better back home. But most people eventually overcome this phase and settle down into a routine in their new country, as they become more familiar with it.

But for some immigrants, life Canada doesn’t turn out as good as expected. Life happens.

As a French, I was lucky to be able to spend almost two years in Canada before deciding to apply for permanent residence. During these two years, I “tested out” the country, started working, made friends, etc. But a lot of people from the so-called “developing countries” aren’t that lucky and can’t even get a tourist visa to visit the country they plan to immigrate to.

This can lead to a lot of issues because no matter how much you read about Canada and how prepared you are, you won’t know if the country is right for you until you actually experience it yourself.

So what can you do if you don’t see any other solution but going back home?

  • Take a deep breath and talk to other immigrants. Most will have experienced what you are going through. Try to see whether you are simply going through a “rejection phase” or whether the issues are deeper.
  • Consider moving to another province, or another city. Provinces each have their own culture and “vibe”, and as a permanent resident, you can live anywhere in Canada. Even if you apply for permanent residence through the Quebec program, you do not have to stay in Quebec if it doesn’t work out for you.
  • Remember that you can lose your permanent residence if you do not meet the residency requirements, i.e. being physically present in Canada for at least two years in every five-year period. You may not think much of it if you are sure you don’t want to live in Canada anymore, but I do know immigrants who regretted losing their permanent residence status. And if you do lose it, you have to start the immigration process from scratch.
  • Consider how long you have to wait until being eligible for citizenship. Of course, becoming a Canadian citizen may not be your goal if you do not want to live in Canada anymore. But it’s still a major milestone and can offer you new opportunities. If you are a few months’ short of meeting the requirements, keep that in mind before heading home.
  • Talk about your experience. It may be hard to be objective at first but sharing the “lessons learned” will help other immigrants deciding whether Canada is right for them.

Have you ever considered going back home? Did you go through a “rejection phase” in your new country?


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Very interesting post, Zhu. I had no idea about the immigration process in Canada. But I have say, in all honesty, I wish we were a bit more like this in the U.S.

    I lived in Japan for a summer and was sincerely considering staying there for a year after my job had completed, because I truly loved Japan. However, they’re also very stringent on there immigration procedures, and just wasn’t up to going through it.

  2. Salut Zhu,
    I learned a lot about the Canadian immigration process since I have known you. Compared to Canada, France has a different process. I don’t know how quick or slow it is now but when I first came, I had in the first year a plastic “carte de déjour” in my first year(before my first 6 months were up).

    A rejection phrase? No; I have always been surrounded my spouse & in-laws. But, I am evolving and questionning many things in my life. But, life here has been pretty interesting, so no regrets!

    • That’s rare, you must have had a lot of support because a lot of immigrants go through a rejection phase! It’s good you didn’t experience it though.

  3. Hey Zhu,

    I love your articles. They shed light to some of us Canadians. I’ve lived in many cities and am always moving. Every city in Canada paints a beautiful picture of itself. Once you actually live there however it can be a totally different story. The + about Canada is that it is so big so you can keep trying other places.

    All the best,

    Rick Carroll

  4. Hi Zhu,
    After I finished MBA, half of the foreign students who had already gotten PR left. That’s because the economy in developing countries is flourishing in comparison and job prospects of “American” graduates are excellent. I guess people have trade-offs, for me it was settling down in a liberal and positive place, despite the fact that the labour market sucks.

    • I can imagine that for a lot of foreign students, it can actually be worth it to go home. The only issue is, you can lose your PR, and you never know when you may need to go back to Canada.

  5. Hi, I’ve been living here for 25 years and I have my own reasons why I hate this country.

    1. This is a globalist state, politicians sell out this country piece-by-piece.

    Foreigners can own land and buy real estate here. Makes you wonder why small cities with plenty of land have such ridiculous land prices, far more expensive than the states and comparable to populated places like Europe. Apartment rental buildings in Toronto are sold at $50k/unit but similar sized condos go for $300k?!

    This “nation” lacks sovereignty. All the laws being passed recently are virtually the same as in the states, being created and passed at the same time it’s astonishing. Gee, makes you think there’s a global agenda going on?

    Ever since NAFTA all the manufacturing has been outsourced, and government regulations kill potential for small business growth. Successful business men I know have been successful by leaving. It’s tough to get a business going anywhere here. Canada does whatever NATO tells it to do, regardless of whether the war is right or not (hint: it’s almost always wrong).

    Now they are planning to bring a North American Union and Stephen Harper and Obama are blatantly lying about it existing while other politicians have already openly admitted that it’s in the works. Huh, so what’s going on?

    2. The health care is the greatest health care system in the world.. if you never get sick! Ever watch someone die of cancer and tossed aside by doctors like refuse, not even allowed to stay in the hospital so they have to die alone at home in pain and agony? People keep saying how good this health care system is, but those are people who’ve never been seriously ill. If God forbid you get a serious illness, you’ll see the ridiculous wait times for specialists, to get MRI exams, etc. Did I mention God? Oops, that brings me to the next point…

    3. Nobody here believes in God or religion. Nowadays more than ever people are atheist or apathetic towards religion. Most of them are pretty ignorant to religion, they have some kind of hate against it because it gets in the way of having fun. And TV/Movies/Entertainment constantly mock and denigrate it. It’s a full on assault.

    People believe religion is bad because it says homosexuality is unnatural, and it sexually suppresses you and it’s against abortions. All part of the feminist and gay agenda that is so incredibly pervasive here that lies to you saying that you were “born like that” and that you shouldn’t resist temptation, that career is more important than family and child-rearing, that gender is just a “social construct” and all the sick things that pervert your own humanity. I’ve had enough of the poison.

    The churches here are a joke, they are fast food spirituality and pervert the teachings of scripture in favour of being politically correct.

    Instead of worshiping the creator, people worship themselves and materialism. Just look at people’s Facebook profiles, they are really shrines they build for self-worship and admiration. Younger generations love their drugs and alcohol so much they can’t or don’t know how to live without it. Worst of all they socialize through it, any social gathering they go to they have to get their buzz to interact with others.

    4. People here are selfish and they don’t know it. Canadians like to think they are nice but they are not. It’s just an old stereotype that people say “Canadians are nice”. They equate nice with good. But deep down they have their prejudices. They may not like you, and state reasons other than why they really don’t like you or try to deny it and continue to be friendly because they’ve been taught to be “nice” rather than honest. Yes, they may be polite, and hold the door for you, or give you a fake friendly smile and some chit-chat. But that’s an inherited mannerism, it doesn’t come from the heart.

    Canadians really do not like to help. I don’t know what it is, people here are very independent and they seem annoyed and impatient when someone asks for help. Ask for help and you’ll get a reply of resistant questions that go “why don’t you buy this or do that”.

    Asking simple things like asking to borrow a wrench or getting a boost for a dead battery is difficult. Canadians of recent generations have something against giving free help away, I think it’s some kind of insecurity against being used. They know that they don’t benefit at all in their insular lives from giving real help to others and they don’t consider themselves to be part of any community so why would they bother? I guess they don’t know what it’s like to be poor. Instead, I’ve learned to yank out my wallet and pay $$$ for anything I need. I guess it’s the big city/suburbia mentality.

    On the flip-side, they don’t ever bother asking you for help. And when they do, it’s by a “favour” system, where you have to get bribed somehow for it or they “owe you one”.

    5. The government and society hates men, masculinity and femininity. People here say that men are evil oppressors, rapists, and instigators wars. They think masculinity equates with patriarchy. So boys here never mature, they are taught nothing but garbage and pick-up on the worsts substitutes for true masculinity from Hollywood, TV, and idols. They never grow out of boyhood. They become emotionally needy, blind, and destructive. Many can’t hold down a marriage. On the other hand, woman are masculine. They seek power. It’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high.

    In BC, 70% of woman get full custody of the kids, only 10% of men get full custody. I’ve seen too many men get divorced lose their home and kids, and then have to pay child support AND alimony. On top of that, they lose custody and just get “visitation rights”. Many of these are not the cheaters or abusers, these were half-decent men whose marriages just fell apart. As a woman you don’t have to be cheated on or abused to get the kids, house, and money. It’s sick to see what lawyers and the family court system does to families. And judges couldn’t care less if the man ends up making less then minimum wage to pay entitlements to his ex-wife.

    Many companies will advertise in their job postings that they are “equal opportunity” employers. Some will even advertise that if you are a visible minority, woman, or aboriginal, to contact their human resources. They basically fill quotas for certain jobs. If two carpenters of equal qualifications applied for the same jobs but one was male and the other female, guess who gets hired? There are smaller percentage of females in many roles like carpentry, yet companies will go out of their way to hire as many as they can to get that magic %50 quota. And a ton of money and programs go exclusively to supporting woman, as if men don’t matter and the “patriarchs are still controlling society”. Whatever.

    6. Land barons, insurance magnates, and giant evil banks. Need I say more?

    I could go on. Yes, Canada is a nice country to live in. It’s better than growing up in war or poverty, it really is. But life here can be so shallow, it doesn’t support the soul. And I’ve seen things in recent years deteriorate whereas life in my home nation has recovered from war and oppression. I personally would rather go back be with my family and community than live rich here.

    • I forgot to mention: people here don’t take care of the elderly.

      Where I’m from, it’s normal to see three generations of family living under the same roof. The elderly were always around to help raise the kids, to be role models, and to pass wisdom. I can understand when some kids move far away, but the elderly always had someone in the family care for them.

      Here, people live a solitary life. Parents raise kids alone, and can’t be bothered with taking care of their parents. People rely on the government or $$$ to dispose of the elderly. Many old people end-up in nursing homes or retirement communities. Many are being nursed by people who don’t give a damn about them or die alone. I can understand when the elderly don’t want to move out of their homes, but don’t the kids ever stay with them when they’re sick or dying? Is making money or keeping a stupid job or house so important? Or is it that they’re too much of burden?

      What does that alone say about Canadian “society”?

    • Hello,

      Thank you for sharing your views and your experience. I completely disagree with you on most points, but I do believe in freedom of speech!

      1. This is a glob­al­ist state, politi­cians sell out this coun­try piece-by-piece.

      I think you are just being paranoid. But I don’t support Harper, so hey.

      2. The health care is the great­est health care sys­tem in the world.. if you never get sick!

      People rarely deny there are plenty of issues with the Canadian health care system, mostly getting a family doctor and the long waiting lists for some specialists and surgeries. That said, the system doesn’t let people die just like that. Let’s be realistic for a second here.

      3. Nobody here believes in God or reli­gion

      Great! As an atheist, I’m happy religion doesn’t rule this country and I wouldn’t have it otherwise.

      5. The gov­ern­ment and soci­ety hates men, mas­culin­ity and fem­i­nin­ity.

      Seriously? That sounds like a rant from The Sun. I don’t see any truth in that.

      6. Land barons, insur­ance mag­nates, and giant evil banks. Need I say more?

      Well, probably because I don’t see your point here.

      peo­ple here don’t take care of the elderly.

      I agree to a certain extent, and I can see that in other cultures, people care about the elderly differently. That doesn’t mean Canadians don’t care though.

      As you can see, we have very different views on politics!

      • You dont see society hating man because youre a woman. I heard enough horror stories from guys getting screwed by women. The law stands on women side. Check redpill, still you wont understand. Society doesnt care about elderly ppl. I saw one time old lady crying alone on wheel chair in the old ppl house. Car insurance is a total rip off most expensive in NA. Clean record and i have to pay 400$. Soon im going back home to Europe to have better life standard than in no soul Canada.

        • I don’t think society “hates men”. Yes, I’m a woman, but this is a gross exaggeration, same as if I were to say that “society harass women constantly”. There are issues but it’s not all black or all white.

          That said, I’m sorry to hear that your experience in Canada is negative. How long have you been here? Where are you from?

  6. Hi there!

    I like going through your posts as they give you more insight into what life in other parts of Canada is like, thanks!

    As far as I’m concerned, I went through the Quebec process and it took me nearly four years to get my “Holy Graal” so-to-speak! As you pointed out, that process takes longer indeed when you come from a so-called “developing” country although some cases might be treated swiftly if their jobs are on demand.

    Anyways, I’ve been here in Montreal, Quebec, for a little over 5 months… Actually no, I stayed in Monteregie at my sister’s for like three months then moved to Montreal around mid-July. I worked as a web editor-translator in my country of birth and knew I’d have problems finding a job in the same branch here in Quebec as it’s a regulated profession, so the process of becoming a certified translator not only does take some time but costs a bit of cash too, which I desperately need to keep to pay the bills… Nevertheless, I tempted luck and sent resumes as a translator just to see if that would attract the attention of some recruiters. And it did (got responses from SDL for instance), but I never landed any job as of today. It seems to me that you have to specialize in a certain sector to be able to do just that! I also had an interview for an unpaid internship as administrative assistant (four weeks) and another for a customer care agent position in a call center. Both went fine but in the case of the former, I was scheduled to volunteer during that very same period (10 days) and for the latter, the working hours were just horrible transportation-wise (couldn’t afford paying for a taxi every single night as you have to be available 7 days a week, from 4pm til midnight on weekdays and 9am till 9pm on the weekends). I’d have gladly accepted, as desperate as I am to find a job these days, even with a minimum wage (paid like CAN$9.95/hour)…

    Then recently, I got an invitation for a pre-screening interview for a paid internship in… Toronto, which left me wondering why I can’t get such interviews here in Montreal and also thinking that might be the opening that could pave the way for greater things to come in my professional life… It’s just a pre-screening interview but at least they’re paying attention to your skills there lol

    So yeah, moving to another province is very much an option now! In any case, not giving up as I’m sure the whole process of coming to Canada will all turn out to be a positive experience eventually!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

      We are in the same field (I’m an editor/translator/proofreader/copywriter) but I don’t know the market in Montreal. I contacted a few translation companies there but haven’t had much luck so far, the market is better in Ottawa I think. Or maybe I just don’t know how to break into the Quebec market!

      There is a market for English-to-French translators in Toronto, and it’s an interesting if somewhat expensive city. Keep me updated, I’d love to know more about your background and the potential move from one province to another!

  7. I am probably a bit late to write something on here, but I will get my 10 cents as they say. This is a personal opinion of course, and does not apply to everyone. The immigration process was very long, too long, and the incompetency and bureaucratic nature of the immigration and other government officials was staggering.

    I don’t find the part of the country I live in particularly friendly, people are rude, selfish and obnoxious in some sort of ‘self important’ way. The weather is awful all year around and the cost of everything is much higher than where I moved from. Nearly every Government or other ‘official’ person I have met here so far appears to be on some huge self important power trip.

    I have no right to be in Canada, but then considering most Canadians are of immigrant stock it’s hard to see why anyone has any less right to be here? Canada did not have to have me but I never wanted Canada so perhaps this is my issue; I came here because of a Canadian partner and the hole ‘Canadian dream’ has stretched our relationship and our finances to breaking point and for what?

    For me now the prospects are of a worst pay that back home, and a life in poverty living in sub standard cramped apartment block; so after I have decided it simple is not worth staying here for. I would not advise anyone to immigrate here unless you do come from some war torn place where it could really be no worse where ever you go. I can see a huge amount of promise for many people immigrating to Canada, but for most it seems to be worse or no better; I agree with poster Geli on many points to numerous to list.

    • I’m sorry you are having such a hard time and that Canada didn’t meet your expectations. Where do you live in Canada and where did you move from?

  8. Hi

    I am from India & planning to apply for a PR. I am a qualified accountant & not sure if i can get a job in canada.

    I know some of my fellow accountants who made it to Canada on a PR but had to come back to India. We at least get a job here IN India is the common reply.

    Not sure if i can come to canada on a tourist visa. What do you suggest.


    • You could apply for a tourist visa to scout opportunities, but tourist visas can be hard to get and of course, it’s expensive to travel to Canada. You ca try to connect with other immigrants in your field and check out local work opportunities on website such as

      There is never a guarantee that your life will be better abroad, it’s a very personal decision to make.

      This series may interest you:

  9. Pingback: Café de por Medio S04E08: “Café Amargo” | Los Ziegler en Canada

  10. I just want to add that there is no perfect country on earth. It’s a “give and take” choice really. If what’s more important for you is financial and material security, then go for it, Canada is the place to be! On the other hand, if you love to eat fresh fruits, stroll around wearing only a t-shirt and stay out in your backyard all-year round, then you should probably move to (or stay!) in a warmer climate! 😆

  11. I’m planning to go to Canada but I’m not even sure if I’ll get accepted.

    I’m from Mexico and studied Computer Science, I would like to go there, but I’ve seen a lot of websites that says it’s extremely difficult to get the visa…you know if really is that hard?


  12. Sounds to me like Geli hates Western culture more than Canada specifically.

    As for me, I’m still stuck in the slow grind that is the PR application process. I’m from the U.S. I met my Canadian husband there, and when he got posted back to Canada (northern Québec), I came with him.

    I will say that the immigration process is pretty disheartening. CIC is inconsistent and it’s difficult to not have some idea of when this will be over. Also, I desperately want to get into the immigrant French program (no, I’m not bilingual, which makes it difficult to meet people up here, as well as making many day-to-day aspects of life challenging, particularly since my bilingual husband is military and is away a lot) to have SOMETHING to do with myself, and I can’t do that until I move forward in the immigration process. So without the ability to work or go to school, and with a very, very small Anglophone community up here, I struggle socially. It’s hard to not look back with some sadness on how easy it was to meet people and how full life was for me back in the U.S.

    • I understand how you feel and I know it’s tough. On the bright side, once the immigration process is behind you, you do forget about it pretty quickly. It is just tough times to get through!

        • Aren’t you tired of complaining? If you like Canada, stay. If you don’t, leave. As simple as that 🙂 I certainly don’t claim this country is perfect and I think people are smart. Well, most of them. I have doubts when I read comments like yours though.

  13. Well, Immigration minister is by far the worst in all other ministers in Canada and it seems like no one really cares about this situation. The fact is, if you do not really want to stay in Canada, do not go there, because they will definitely make it a nightmare for you. Law is law and people who make it have their agenda for making it. Just ask yourself, is your dream meets their agenda or not. Are you prepared for a country like this or not. If not, DON’T GO THERE.

  14. Well, I am a Canadian and I should say that I hate Canadian immigration and I regret why i came to Canad in the first place and I leaving abroad now. The question that should be asked is, what happened that I feel like this!!!if anyone cares!!!

    • Well, it’s up to you I guess. Youcan’t really complain to anyone (although you can alwys vent). What matters is what you can do to have the life you want.

  15. Hi, I came to Canada 2 years ago. I have dual citizenship so I did not have to go through the hard and frustrating process of immigration. So yes, you could say how lucky of me. But honestly, I love and hate Canada at the same time. I love it because it is a country with so much beauty all around. I can´t stop admiring the nature surrounding me every day. I live in BC so you know what I am talking about. I love Canadians, they are so friendly, polite and very helpful. I have lived in US and I see a big difference of how they treat immigrants but I am not going there about that topic. I love the quality of life here, how safe I feel in most ways. I come from Mexico, so you also know what I am referring to. I like how Canada is so well organized, clean and has a much better democracy than Mexico. Almost zero corruption here compared to Mexico of course.

    Why I hate Canada. Ok, I hate the darn cold rainy weather here almost all year long!!! It´s unbearable for me. Just rain, rain and more rain. Cold, cold and MORE cold. So yes, I HATE the weather here. Well, for some one born and raised in Mexico you can see why. I hate the culture, I find it boring (maybe it´s because I chose a small town to live in) But I have been in Ontario too and felt the same. I can not explain in what way it´s boring I just feel it this way and maybe a lot will disagree with me, but hey we all perceive life in a different way. I hate the food here. I have gained weight since I got here and no, I am not a junk food eater. I cook, I exercise, I take care and responsibility for what I eat. I have not been able to lose the 10 pounds I have gained not matter what I do. It´s so frustrating! I gained weight when living in US too, but as soon as I get back home, the weight is gone and I am my happy self again. Hmmmmm let´s see what else do I hate about Canada. Oh yes, I feel less freedom in Canada. I do not know exactly why, but I get the feeling the government here has on eye on EVERYTHING that you do and don´t do. It keeps track of everything and I feel like I am just a number and I have to be extra careful on not to mess up or the government is on top of you. Even on how I cross the street!! Too much bureaucracy here in everything. I even have to let the government know when I leave for a vacation (a long one)! For sure it must be a good thing, other wise this country would not be a developed first country so it has to keep a close eye on each and one of their citizens to see what they are up to, but I find it stressful haha. That´s my silly perception. I find it to be A VERY strict country in many ways, but I guess this is how you keep order.

    So after 2 years of homesickness agony, I have decided Canada is not for me. I feel I do not belong here. It was a nice experience and I would definitely come again, but not to stay. As many here have stated, there is no perfect country in the world, no paradise. Mexico has it´s issues (big ones) but that´s where I belong and that is where I am happy in spite of the things I hate about Mexico lol.

    So for all of you who have chosen to stay in Canada, I wish you a happy life here. For those who choose to go back home, I completely understand. We all have our personal reasons.

    I will be going back home in month. Bye my fellow Canadians!

  16. Oh, and I forgot to add I like how Canada takes care of it´s citizens providing them lots of benefits when you truly need them. Maybe this is why they need to keep a close eye on you *wink*

  17. People who aren’t happy CAN GO HOME!!! I am so sick of people thinking that Canada OWES them the right to come here or the perfect life (hell my family came here in the 1600s and my life here is NOT perfect either!).

    When there was the Lebanon-Israel crisis a few years ago Canada woke up and realized who easy it was for foreigners to get Canadian citizenship. A bunch of people in Lebanon had gotten Can citizenship decades prior and decided to return home to Lebanon and never came back to Canada – yet when the $h!t hit the fan they took out their canadian passport to escape the bombings – then went back when everything settled down leaving me and my fellow Canadians with around a 100 million $ bill for their evacuation – they are called “Canadians of convenience”. The system is NOT perfect but it has to be strict and weed out the undesirables. There is also talk to eliminate the “anchor baby” problem we have.

    I am in the process of sponsoring my French spouse and it is a nightmare, but I understand WHY it is and I respect it – he too respects it. He is disgusted with how easy it is for people to immigrate to France (and there are huge problems in Europe with their lax immigration rules – France and UK come to mind), and he appreciates that Canada is becoming stricter (he even appreciates that Quebec makes you sign a paper stating that you will respect Quebec laws such as gender equality etc).

    It’s funny how most countries in the world won’t allow just anyone to move there (or gain citizenship), yet no one criticizes, but when it comes to countries like Canada or the USA – they somehow should welcome everyone with open arms or risk being labelled racist and intolerant.

    Your choices in life are your own – if you can’t make your life better in Canada then don’t bother. It is not Canada’s fault. But I do feel sorry for those who are genuinely here and who are having troubles – not those who complain because their utopian vision of Canada does’t mesh with reality.

    My post might come off as anti-immigrant, but it isn’t. I simply believe that no one should get special treatment. When I talk to my husband’s family about gaining French citizenship, they laugh and tell me how easy it will be. Although this would be to my great advantage (especially as French Quebecer), I don’t want it to be easy, as a foreigner I should have to put effort into obtaining it. Gaining French citizenship for foreigners is a privilege NOT a right – same applies to those trying to immigrate to Canada!

    p.s. to those who complain about the weather – it’s a national hobby here too – but come on people, Canada is known for hockey, maple syrup and COLD weather! People who know NOTHING about Canada KNOW at least that it is freezing in the winter (which is why some avoid it). Not sure why this comes as a big surprise to anyone – especially in the age of google! The cold is out of our control.

    • Hi,

      I don’t think your comment comes off as racist or anti-immigrants, but with all due respect I think you may not fully appreciate the situation 🙂

      Winter… yes, every body knows that winter are long and harsh. Experiencing it is a whole different story. And many immigrants don’t realize how much the weather can make things difficult here. Imagine a family who has just arrived in Canada, who doesn’t have a car and must rely on public transportation. In major cities, it’s fine, but during winter, it can be very tough, especially if you have small children. No one is blaming Canadians for minus-way-too-cold temperatures, but yes, it can be tougher than many people think.

      I think for most immigrants, going home doesn’t mean “gosh, I hate Canada, I just wanted a Canadian passport!” Immigrating takes time and money, frankly, those who go through that just to gain citizenship often have no ides what they are talking about and don’t go far into the process. But yes, some immigrants go home, for so many reasons that it’s impossible to describe them all. It’s not a black-and-white situation, i.e. love it and stay or hate it and go.

      By the way, getting French citizenship is difficult. I’m sorry but your husband’s family has no idea what they are talking about. I’m a French citizen (and a Canadian citizen :-)) and my Canadian husband doesn’t have French citizenship–we briefly considered going through the process but quickly gave up considering he doesn’t “need” it and the process is difficult and long. Bottom line, it’s a myth, getting French citizenship is difficult.

  18. First off, amazing blog! My wife, daughter and I were just recently accepted as Permanent Residents and we are planning to do our landing on March of 2015. This blog has been an amazing help; the tips you provide are great.

    Secondly, and more to the point of this post. I think there is a myth out there that becoming a citizen is always “easy”. Normally it comes from people that are native-born to the country and it happens to people in every country. I come from Venezuela and people over there are convinced that people just have to go to the country and receive a passport at the customs checkpoint. Yet they don’t know the realities that immigrants face when going there. I have been living in Belgium for three years now and people still don’t believe me when I tell them that, although my daughter was born here, she doesn’t have the Belgian nationality. They are convinced that becoming a Belgian is just a matter of coming to Belgium and just signing a paper at City Hall. The same thing happens in Canada. I have been able to make Canadian-born friends that, at first, though that Canada was basically giving passports in cereal boxes. They were shocked when they learned that our process took 4 years, even when my wife and I have PhD’s and speak both English and French.

    With that being said, I do believe that immigrating is a privilege and not a right. I also agree a 100% that we, as immigrants, have to make our share of the effort to adapt to the realities of Canada, that includes the political, historical, cultural and weather realities.

    Also, I do know immigrants that go to a new country with some very utopic ideas of what they are going to face. I’ve even heard people saying that -40 degree weather is just like the inside of your common refrigerator. Then they are shocked when they see that the water froze over. People also fail to see that even in the most welcoming society there are going to be people that doesn’t want you there or that can’t see beyond their own bigotry, we as immigrants have to create our space in this society and find ways to integrate and adapt to it.

    When we first started this adventure into Canada I asked a friend that had already immigrated there before us: “Have you ever been discriminated in Canada? Are people nice?” Her answer then has helped me to also make a life in Belgium these past three years. “There are a@#$holes everywhere in the world. They exist back home and they exist here as well. You do with them the same you did with the ones you met back home: you ignore them and focus on the ones that like you” Thanks to this mentality we have been able to make great friends here (Canadians of all places! and Belgians as well) and ignore the dumb bigots. Of course it’s not as easy as it sounds, but you just take it one day at a time and keep on making your life.

    Congrats again for your blog!

    • Hi Alex and family,

      First of all, let me say “bienvenue au Canada/Welcome to Canada”! I hope you will enjoy life in your new country, and I’m sure the end of the immigration process was a relief for you. Bilingual, Phds holder? My, I think we are lucky to have you. So come over and have some maple syrup!

      Indeed, EU citizenships are very hard to get. My husband never got French citizenship through me, despite what many people assume (he was not interested anyway…). And I still had to go through the immigration, despite marrying a Canadian. My Canadian passport didn’t come with the wedding ring 😉

      There are some… ahem, people with questionable judgment in Canada as well. But as long as you never read The Sun (and awful tabloid-like “newspaper”), you won’t notice them too much.

      I wish you a happy life in Canada. Stay in touch!

  19. PhD holders- why cant you get a job in your nation? Seems odd. M y brother is born here- a Phd holder, it took him 7 years to obtain a job in his field. That was 20 years ago. He was painting houses in halifax for a few years as he was overqualified in his own birth nation.

    • It seems that PhD holders face a strange situation when they enter the job market, after so many years in academia–they are often too qualified, or so think employers, and they may lack practical experience. That’s what I’ve heard anyway, no matter where the Phds were from.

  20. Hi Zhu,

    It is an interesting blog. Everyone has their own experience and opinion about living in Canada. I have lived in Toronto for 5.5+ years now and I feel I have gotten older, poorer bitter, depressed and lonely. I am not going to go into the details of my journey because it may be boring and is personal. I am here with a dependent and for a while I have been thinking that I should go back to my country in South America. The reason I am writing is to ask if you or anyone else knows any international or local institution that may help immigrants who feel “stuck” in a foreign country for financial or other reasons.

    Thanks and good luck to all with your decisions.


    • Hola Gissela,

      First of all, accept a virtual hug. I’m sorry you are feeling lonely and depressed and I feel your pain. February is a tough month too, and I’m sure the weather doesn’t help. I’m sure your journey is not boring, feel free to share if you want. I’m not going to be that person who will convince you Canada is the best place on earth, and I’m not going to say it’s a shit hole either. It’s… Canada. Not every immigrant likes life here, and not every Canadian worship his country. I’m neutral 🙂

      I can’t think of a specific institution, or rather, I can think of too many of them, it really depends on what you need. There are organizations who help immigrants with job issues, cultural adjustment, etc. The public library usually has tons of groups who meet regularly. You may want to check this out as well: If you are religious, your place of worship could help as well.

      The hardest part is to reach out.

      If you need a friend, , I’m here. We are here 🙂

      • Hi again Zhu,

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful and friendly response and for your virtual hug, here is one or more for you too! You are a very nice and creative woman; this site is very well put together and has very interesting stories, advice and information. I have checked the link you gave me, thank you, I still need to re-read some parts to think who I should contact as I am not a newcomer anymore or have immigration matters pending. I do have settlement issues, but they are mainly financial. I arrived in 2009 as a skilled worker and since then I have had like 8-9 different jobs but none a good prospect for a permanent self sufficient income; have studied to obtain a certification I did get;applied to a provincial license I didn’t get; sued a lawyer in the small claims court and won; met people; met and lost good friends to removal orders; visited a few cities and towns; divorced, dated 7 guys, Canadian and other nationalities; attended workshops at employment agencies; been and not on social assistance; guided other people in their settlement issues; volunteered in 3 or 4 organizations; involved in some politics including canvassing and being a scrutinier; joined and stopped going to a church; claimed refugee status and conducted an H&C for a family member; tried different foods; been ok in all weathers and seasons (except for summer before buying an A/C!), learned a lot of the local customs and habits, etc….However, as many others, I guess, I don’t feel part of anything here; I am just exhausted; I think I should go back to my country, especially because I was better off there, had a social life, not so bad work situation, and above all, an identity. The thing is I feel stuck; without money one can’t leave. My only sister relocated 3 years ago to another city in Ontario also and I can’t even move there to live near…I might as well go back to my country, but -this for those who say ” If you don’t like it here, just go”, it’s neither easy to stay, nor to go. I will keep reading the people posts and maybe something helps me come out of this strange limbo where I don’t anymore know where I should be and doing what…:-(. Thanks again for your comforting message Zhu. Hugs for you and the other members including those who are tired of the immigrants. I am tired myself of feeling out of place or home-less, so to speak.

        • First of all, a huge abrazo. Sounds like you need one!

          You’ve been through a lot. Settling in a new country is tough, regardless of what people say. You have to make sure your finances are okay because no one can come over and help out if money becomes an issue, you have to adapt to many new rules, formal or not, start a new career even if you stay in your field, build a network… And it seems like you did everything you should and could do.

          Money is probably the first issue you need to address. Yes, I know, I’m stating the obvious, sorry. But if I were to ask for help, I would start with that, the financial issue. It sounds to me that you tried hard, and that you are exhausted because unfortunately, things turned out to be harder than they should have been.

          No matter what people say, in Canada and in your country, you did NOT fail. Someone who did so much clearly has a good head on her shoulders and you tried, tried hard. Luck wasn’t with you, I’m sorry about that.

          Do you have Canadian citizenship? Would you be able to go to your home country for a little while to get your energy back? Would it help?

          Please, feel free to send me an email. I can try to connect you with people.

          Meanwhile, take care of yourself. Just do one nice thing for you… a small treat, just to cheer you up even if it’s temporary.

  21. Hello, I’m an Asian-Canadian citizen returning home temporarily to grab some cash for my 18 year-old son and myself. It’s been 4 years and 8 months since I stepped my first foot here in Canada and luckily, my son and I got the citizenship last year and things improved a bit but not significantly enough to claim that “we got settled”, which is the major reason for the temporary return. Just like Ms. ZHU wrote, things are “TOUGH”, yes, “VERY TOUGH” here and I presume our settlement in the long run is in no wise guaranteed.
    And yet, personally, I found that it is worth the try, seeking to get settled here for “I LIKE it here” despite enormous challenges. Choosing to live in another country is NEVER a JOKE and it is “EXTREMELY CHALLENGING” but, nevertheless, it is your preference for everyone is different. Canada is NOT a heaven, however, depending on your personality and preferences, I believe, you CAN eventually call it your home and TRULY love the “minus-something-friggin’-cold” temperatures. J’aime le Canada! Bonne chances, tout le monde!

  22. I immigrated exactly 3 years ago and in the beginning, it was hard. The cold weather, different culture. I was lonely and in a big city that overwhelmed me. People from my (ethnic) community who had struggled for years warned me that I should lower my expectation and wouldn’t amount to much. I did the opposite. I embraced my fears, made new friends from different races/ethnicities as long as our values matched. I volunteered even when feeling sorry for myself. I asked for help. I made mistakes (lots).I forced myself out of my comfort zone. I chose to be grateful for small victories. I was under utilized in my first job changed jobs after 2 years(went back to school). My first boss sucked but I am now blessed with a wonderful boss. I like my colleagues and what I do. I have hard to push myself really hard these 3 years but it has paid off. I just recently bought a small town home and have hosted a new comer. Canada is becoming home. When I visited my home country recently, I got homesick for Canada. Its been a journey and still is. I miss my extended family that’s the challenge of being a first generation immigrant. I still hate the crazy winters but so do most Canadians. When I stopped complaining (or to be more accurate, significantly cut back on complaining), I found opportunities. And not just me. I have immigrant friends who have been here about 5 years that are doing ok. But I also know some who have been here for 10 years and are convinced you can’t make it

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m glad to hear that, despite struggles, you are making it here. Out of curiosity, where are you from? Is there anything you would have done differently looking back?

  23. I been here for 5 years, did well in my professional field by getting job within few month after arrival. Financially we are doing well. However, I am one of those who really is not enjoying living in Canada. It is not about the country itself. Its just we have no ‘fit”. I call it no chemistry 🙂 I lived in few countries before and never had such a difficulty. Although i tried really hard to like my life here, to wait and see, to socialize, travelled around, etc. I feel that I do not fit and do not belong here. And, honestly, i do not really like it that much, to stay here regardless of personal discomfort. The further it is – the worse it becomes. So i think we are going to move home soon. Again, Canada is good place, decently managed country but I think there are certain personalities that chock on overly regulated, sterile, and predictable life. I am one of those 🙂

        • To pick up on further questions, it seems that motivation for immigration is important too. For us it was rather displacement due to instability in the region. On the other hand, we lived in Europe for work, and we liked it. I would be able to live and blend in there because i it corresponds to my needs, my preferred life style, and my subjective “love it” state of mind.

          • I completely understand and I agree with you, motivation matters. When you are forced to leave your country because of political conditions, you may hope to return one day when things get better (I’m just assuming based on discussions I had with people here from Lebanon, Iraq, etc.). You leave… because you have too.

            Many immigrants report that they feel excluded in Europe, though. Many EU countries aren’t as inclusive as North America. Did you feel it in Europe?

  24. I think that perception of North America as “immigrant” society is a myth, at least in Canada. Yes there are lots of immigrants but society is predominantly (80%) of anglo saxon descend. People live in mostly in segregations based on ethnicity/nationality. Rarely, or never I met immigrants who can say that they are real friends with locals. In addition, At work there is discrimination (another taboo) and its difficult to progress on career ladder (just like everywhere else). In Quebec I heard many stories on how rude locals can be toward non-francophone yet I never encountered any issues. I tend to approach people with smile and respect – so never run into a problem. Moreover, I realized that we always are going to be excluded so we prefer to live in milder climate, surrounded by richer culture, beautiful architecture, have more opportunities to travel and explore lucrative locations. We like compact diversity of Europe. i do not expect establishing deep relationship or lifelong friendship there.

    • I can’t speak for Quebec where there is a strong sense of identity… and I’m not sure I qualify to speak as an immigrant because even though I am one, I’m technically closer to a WASP than someone from Middle-East or Africa and I’m probably less likely to be discriminated against. Case in point, when Feng and I are together, people often assume he is the newcomer even though he has been living in Canada for most of his life… I am the most recent immigrant!

      I understand what you say about newcomers living together, by ethnic groups. I’ve seen that too.

  25. We did not feel included there and here. I think it is impossible to blend completely into foreign culture with different mentality because we don’t share humour, have different values/priorities , and lived experiences . I guess we can’t be included in a sense of being totally assimilated with locals and “being on the same page”. Immigrants are be accepted in, respected, and will be tolerated as long as they play by game rules. Last is true for living in any foreign country. People can learn to behave and respond in a certain culturally expected way but will never truly become “local”. On the other hand, are we truly “included” in our countries? How long does it take to blend in, when person moves to new city or change work – it might take from month to years. So i would not blame Europe or Canada for being not “from within “. On the same note, what do is meant by the concept of inclusion? It would be interesting to explore what is meant by being not included for different people is it not having social ties, being discriminated, poorly treated, or just being homesick, and therefore, seeing world darker that it is. 🙂

    • Wow, this is fascinating. You truly have a lot to say about it, I wish we could meet in person!

      I think for me it was easier to adopt Canada because I was young, 19 when I came here, and I wanted to belong. But now I feel differently and there are Canadian values I’m starting to reject because… this is just not me. Like you said, I trained myself to behave and respond a certain way but deep down, sometime it bothers me.

      • Great inputs from both of you.

        It seems to me that the issue is that there will always be cultural values that either one resonates with or that one rejects. So far in my experience one tends to see the positive cultural values first and the negative ones tend to become more accentuated later on when the ‘honey moon’ period wears off. Funny thing is that this happens even with your own culture. There are values form my ‘home’ culture that I can’t stand. I guess the tipping point is when the cons outweigh the pros.

        I once asked my father-in-law, who has been living in the US for more than 20 years, if he ever found something he hated from the US and made him want to go back to his original country. He basically said that he sees three stages: first you love everything about it (the ‘honey moon’ period), then you become disillusioned, as you start seeing the ugly side of the culture you have adopted, but then, on the third stage, you learn to balance both. You see both the good and the bad, then you analyse whether you can live with it or not. That would be the tipping point I guess.

        • Excellent analysis!

          One more thing I should add is that, based on my experience (over ten years in Canada), you are never done analyzing your former country and your new one… and whatever place you may get to know in between. I think once you immigrated, once you get to experience another culture and other points of view, you constantly reconsider every assumption, every custom.

  26. I am a Canadian Born citizen from “so-called” immigrant parents. There is a lot of descrimination that occurs at the education level and employment, and obviously social. (Racism is bad in Canada since its inception, I studied history and travelled accross the world many times, I am not proud of what we have done in Canada.)

    Interestingly, before I started a few professional businesses I did and still encounter racism from nationalistic slurs to “moddest” suggestions directly towards me to rid of my Mediterranean background, stop speaking my “dirty” language, one teacher told me to downgrade my subjects to basic because I won’t make it far in Canada (my marks were normal and I was below the age of 15). I have been spat on by students, subjected to educational expel and disciplinary actions (for what someone next to me in school did, ) and subjected to Ill treatment (shoved in a hand made dark room smaller then a locker and locked in.) . Only as I got older and stated a family on my own did I start to realise the true nature of this. Immigrants are treated worse then second class citizens in a nation with an establish monarch democracy with chartered rights and freedoms. I pay a lot of taxes, never used anything and we developed a lot for Canada.

    The problem with Canada is a sense of this non realistic “real Canadian” and the “others in Canada” which play a very demeaning racial profiling of all ethnic people’s in Canada, even by those in Government, education and other accountable professions.

    Canada needs to show on television, teach in schools and educate people, the positive impact immigrants play in making our economy strong and large. (My family did a lot for Canada, I don’t even ask for anything in return. I used hospital 2 times and went to school after went to private school that my family paid for not government to get away from negativity.)

    Canada is divided, not by immigrants but by those who indoctrinate this self esteem ego of superiority over non-English defendant Canadian citizens as being sub-human. ( for all the French in Quebec, just so you know .. Very few English speaking Canadians speak positive of you. I personally like quebecer, you gave me opportunity, you can me basic respect.) Canadas social problems starts with their childhood, which also derives from educational levels about the world, current world occurrences and cultures and world economics.

    Dangerously, the media we watch on television is American not even Canadian but yet we are influenced by American social fears, gangsterism and anglo-propaganda.

    For some reason, Canada thinks people are aching to immigrate to Canada. Sorry, but this isn’t 1950’s, 1960s nor the 1970s anymore, those golden years are finished.

    I contemplated many times of moving back to my ancestral land, but I don’t know what it is like to live there. I hardly speak the language nor read their writing.

    Bottom line is that immigrants are not as welcome to Canada as what immigrants are taught abroad by invite to “work in Canada, the peaceful multicultural country.”, as my parents were invited to Canada.

    Shockingly, is the anti-immigration acts and legislation recently implemented in Canada that put my existence in this country in jepordy. Really bothered by this, all the education about natizism and their laws passed in preparing for their total control in grade school; what has occurred in Canada appears comparible by emotion to what Canada has implemented.

    Sometimes I wish that if the Canadian government wanted me out of Canada; just write me a letter stating that I am not welcome in Canada. And that they do not want me in this country. I was born here I’m not here out of choice, even if you throw me out would have to find a nation that will grant me citizenship.

    • I never know what to answer to people who have a terrible experience with Canada or as an immigrant. Obviously, you’re angry. This doesn’t mean you’re wrong and that your personal experience doesn’t count, but it doesn’t paint a full picture either.

      I’m an immigrant too, although you can argue that as a white European, I’m less likely to encounter racism. My husband is Chinese and he never had major issues with racism in Canada. I know plenty of immigrants who are doing just fine.

      But really, what I say won’t matter much because I don’t have the full picture either. The truth probably lies between our experiences. I traveled a lot too and I find Canada way more welcome toward immigrants and way more open to multiculturalism than any other country I visited.

      If you’re so unhappy here, why don’t you try living in another country? And I’m not saying that in a mean spiteful way, I’m just wondering. This is what we all do, right? Trying to find a place in this world?

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