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.