Welcome to my new series, Ten Immigrants, Ten Interviews.
You guys all know my story by now, and you have a pretty good idea of what my life in Canada looks like. I thought it was time to let other immigrants and new Canadians speak. I contacted ten of them, who each have their own story, their own reasons to come to Canada, their own point of view on how life is up North in the igloos. They all answered ten questions, bringing a new perspective on immigration.
A new post will be published every Saturday.
I was browsing Flickr one night when I found this beautiful picture, named “Dogsledding over frozen Frobisher Bay”. I have always been curious about Canada’s Great North, so I opened the full picture set and found a few other gems, such as Arctic Char, and Seal Celebration.
I had to find out who was behind these pictures: I contacted the author. His profile had one line: “Brazilian guy living in Iqaluit”. Now, I was super curious. I mean, Canada is well-known to be a cold place, but from Brazil to the actual Great White North? That’s one hell of a culture shock!
Ed replied to me right away… he even wrote in French! Turned out he was actually from São Paulo and had been living in Nunavut, Canada’s Arctic territory, for seven years. He is not a full-time photographer yet but does document Canada’s harshest environment very well. And as you can see from the interview, there are other options than Toronto to settle in Canada!
What brought you to Canada?
I came to Canada several years ago, for a visit, so spent a few weeks driving around, sight-seeing. It was really nice to see an interesting & beautiful country with tons of people from all over the world.
We had a such great time, so decided to go back to Brazil, finish university, and then continue studying a little bit further.
I did then a telecommunications management program in southern Ontario, but I tried to find a job in the GTA at no avail, so decided to give it a shot in the Great White North, just to check it out.
So far, it’s been almost seven years in Iqaluit. I love it up here! But I would say this is not for everyone…
Did you find the immigration process difficult?
The immigration process was a little bit tricky because at first, I got this student visa through the program I was attending, but then in order to graduate, I had to complete a few months of internship/work experience, which allowed me to get my I first work permit.
After that, I was able (barely) to continue to have my work permit renewed/extended, until I’ve applied for the landed immigrant status.
I believe this was only possible because of the lack of skilled professionals in the north. Honestly, in the “south” with all sorts of people looking for jobs, it wouldn’t have made any sense to have this kind of status granted to me.
How long did it take you to find a job that you liked in Canada?
Since I had to complete this internship in the area/field of studies, I was able to get a job within the telecommunications field, as I ended up working for an Internet Service Provider.
After working for them for 3 years or so, I was able to meet lots of people, and (social) networking is essential, especially in a smaller community, so when the position with the City of Iqaluit became available, I decided to apply for it, and now I’ve been working as its network administrator.
I am also a passionate photographer, so I have been thinking of investing more time into photography. Please, feel free to see a few samples of my work and a small idea of what’s going on in the north!
Where did you learn French/ English? What was your second language level when you first came to Canada?
I’ve been studying English since a small kid, as I was fortunate enough to have parents who had this vision that English is a world language. In high school, I had some french classes as well, and it’s been interesting to be involved with the francophone community in Nunavut, so I’ve been also practicing my french skills.
I must confess I need to invest more time learning Inuktitut though. I would say, prior to coming to Canada, I was quite fluent in English, with enough french to keep up simple conversations. It is essential that you speak & write the languages of the country you are moving to; I find it really sad to see people pretending to be in their own countries, forgetting they have moved to a new place, with its own official languages and cultures. I understand it is important to keep our roots alive, but I would say its way more important to adapt yourself to the canadian culture, than have Canada to bend its knees for you.
What was your biggest culture shock?
The Inuit culture is amazing. It’s awesome to be in a harsh environment and yet, still be able to survive and have lots of fun. The tundra is incredibly beautiful, the northern lights provide an exquisite eye candy.
What haven’t you gotten used to yet in Canada?
I try to enjoy every single moment in my life to its fullest, so, can’t really say there is such a thing that really bugs me in Canada.
Did immigrating to Canada match your expectations?
I don’t think it’s fair to expect Canada to be paradise, or hell… Anywhere you go, you’ll find positive and negative things.
Do you find life expensive in Canada compared to your home country?
Very VERY expensive, but I live in Iqaluit, Nunavut. We are in another planet… I don’t find it fair to compare prices, because we make a living earning Canadian dollars, spending in Canadian dollars, so I don’t think it’s simply a matter of “buying stuff” with a different currency.
Are you planning to apply for Canadian citizenship when you will meet the requirements?
Yes, I’ll be applying when I meet the requirements, which will be probably sometime next year.
What advice would you give to someone interested in immigrating to Canada?
Read, read and read lots about Canada, come up for a visit first, I know it’s not the same experience while you’re only visiting, things can be different when you actually live here, but all I can say is Canada is a great country. Just don’t expect to be an easy ride and take everything for granted. You have to work up the ladder, start crawling prior to running… Good luck!