[Interview] Cecille and Her Family: From The Philippines to Mississauga

Cecille at NIagara Falls

Cecille at NIa­gara Falls

Wel­come to the 2013 edi­tion of “Ten Immi­grants, Ten Inter­views!” In this series, we will explore the moti­va­tions of ten prospec­tive immi­grants and new­com­ers to Canada. You can find the two pre­vi­ous series here: Ten Immi­grants, Ten Inter­views (2010) and Ten More Immi­grants For Ten More Inter­views (2011).

Cecille and her fam­ily are from the Philip­pines and landed in Canada in 2011. They set­tled in Mis­sis­sauga, one of the many sub­urbs of Toronto, and enjoy their new life in a safe mul­ti­cul­tural country.

This resilient fam­ily actu­ally applied for per­ma­nent res­i­dence twice—the sec­ond one was their ticket to Canada, after six years old wait­ing in total!

1)     Why did you decide to immi­grate to Canada?

The main rea­son why my hus­band and I decided to immi­grate to Canada is sim­ply to give our daugh­ter and future chil­dren more oppor­tu­ni­ties in life as they grow older. We wanted her to live in a safe and clean envi­ron­ment and know that the com­mu­nity is car­ing for her. We also wanted to be reunited with my par­ents, sib­ling and other close rel­a­tives who have also immi­grated to Canada before we did. 

2)     Did you find the immi­gra­tion process dif­fi­cult? Which immi­gra­tion cat­e­gory did you apply in, and how long did it take for you to get per­ma­nent res­i­dence status?

The immi­gra­tion process was sim­ple and straight­for­ward but the wait was the frus­trat­ing part. We applied twice and I per­son­ally filled out all the paper­work with­out hir­ing any con­sul­tant or immi­gra­tion lawyer.

Our first appli­ca­tion was in 2006 under the point sys­tem but years passed and the appli­ca­tion didn’t seem to be processed. We were just wait­ing and waiting.

In 2010, we found out that a new process was being imple­mented where pri­or­ity will be given to pro­fes­sions under the Fed­eral Skilled Worker Pro­gram. Luck­ily, my pro­fes­sion was part of the list, so we decided to re-apply even though it meant that we had to pay the fees again. The sec­ond appli­ca­tion was processed at once and the immi­gra­tion office asked us to with­draw our first appli­ca­tion to receive a refund.

It took us a year to be granted per­ma­nent res­i­dence, but includ­ing the first appli­ca­tion, we waited for 6 years in total.  

3)     How did your daugh­ter deal with the move from the old con­ti­nent to the new one?

My daugh­ter was just 3 years old when we moved. She did not know what was going on and how far Canada was from our old home. She was the first one to adjust to the envi­ron­ment and to make new friends.

4)     Do you speak French? Where did you learn English?

I can’t speak French but I would love to learn it.

Eng­lish is the medium of instruc­tion in schools in the Philip­pines. So I learned Eng­lish as a kid up to the uni­ver­sity. I also used Eng­lish at work since the com­pany that I worked for requires me to com­mu­ni­cate with my coun­ter­parts from dif­fer­ent parts of the world.

5)     How do you find the cost of liv­ing com­pared to your home country?

Over­all, it is way higher in Canada: food, cloth­ing and any­thing that is service-related such as hair­cut, man­i­cure, etc. is more expen­sive in Canada. The worst part for me is the insurance.

6)     What has been your biggest cul­ture shock so far?

The biggest cul­ture shock for me was the lack of secu­rity guards every­where.  In the Philip­pines, there are armed and uni­formed secu­rity guards in every store, bank, and mall— even at school. Upon board­ing the LRT (train), guards check your bag and some­times per­form body check like at the air­port. And even with the tight secu­rity mea­sures in place you still don’t feel safe. So I was totally shocked that here in Canada there were no secu­rity guards in malls or banks—but I some­how do feel safer here. 

7)     What aspect of life in Canada did you adopt right away?

We are still adjust­ing to our new­found Cana­dian life. One thing that we con­sciously tried to adopt was the habit of recy­cling and seg­re­gat­ing garbage. We did not do it the Philip­pines but I am proud to say that we have found the dis­ci­pline to do it here. Another thing is that every­thing is “Do It Your­self”.  Because man­ual labor is so expen­sive unlike in the Philip­pines, we had to learn sim­ple things such as: hem­ming clothes, fix­ing elec­tri­cal fix­ture and plumb­ing, among oth­ers. We are slowly get­ting there!

8)     What’s one thing you don’t like in Canada?

One word:  Winter.

Com­ing from a trop­i­cal coun­try, I will never get use to win­ter. Snow is very nice to look at but I don’t like it when it starts to melt and road becomes slushy and unsafe. I also don’t like it when there is no snow but yet it is bit­ter cold.

9)     What’s the best part about liv­ing in your city?

I like Mis­sis­sauga. It is such a diverse mul­ti­cul­tural city that you can’t tell which cul­ture is the minor­ity or major­ity! I like that it cel­e­brates diver­sity and has a lot of activ­i­ties like the Caras­sauga where you learn and appre­ci­ate the other cul­tures. There are also a lot of fam­ily and kid activ­i­ties offered by com­mu­nity cen­ters and libraries. 

10)  What advice would you give to some­one start­ing the immi­gra­tion process?

Para sa aking mga kababayan and to all who are plan­ning to immi­grate to Canada, my one piece of advice is to always “Pre­pare for the worst, but hope for the best”. Each immi­grant has their own sto­ries to tell, learn from these sto­ries. Do research to be ready: make lists, know the coun­try, learn Eng­lish, find out what is required to upgrade your pro­fes­sion, net­work with other immi­grants and the list may go on and on. Do what­ever it takes to pre­pare for this journey.

When you are in Canada, things may not go as you planned but that’s okay, chalk it up as a learn­ing expe­ri­ence and move for­ward. Believe that things hap­pen for a rea­son, I did and it worked for me.  Good Luck and feel free to visit my blog: http://www.iliveiconquer.com where I share my sto­ries as a new immi­grant, and drop a note if you have any ques­tions.


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. Thank you so much for inter­view­ing me! I am happy to share my expe­ri­ence to your readers.

    More power to you!

Leave A Reply

Enjoying this blog? Please spread the word :)