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Are You a Good Fit for Canada?

Kensington Market, Toronto, September 2013
Kensington Market, Toronto, September 2013

I recently had the chance to meet a French couple during their stay in Ottawa. These prospective immigrants had decided to take their holidays in Quebec and Ontario to discover the Canadian way of life and learn as much as they could about the country.

I must admit I rarely go out of my way to meet French tourists in Ottawa. I used to, but I had several bad experiences with prospective immigrants who had only ventured outside Quebec to criticize everything and comfort themselves with the idea that Montreal was the best possible choice for them and that the rest of Canada sucked.

I exchanged a few emails with Clothilde before they left France and I didn’t get that vibe from her. And I’m very glad we’ve met. We had a great time walking around Ottawa and I enjoyed answering their questions about life in Canada.

As prospective immigrants, they were naturally anxious about their future in Canada. Would they be a good fit?

I didn’t even have to lie—I think they would fit perfectly and I told them so.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada developed a point-based system to recruit skilled immigrants based on the needs of the economy. But the fact you are eligible for permanent residency on paper doesn’t necessarily mean you will enjoy life in Canada.

I don’t have a crystal ball nor a magic wand. I can’t predict who will be successful in Canada. But based on my experience, some folks will adapt better than others.

So, who exactly would be a good fit for Canada?

Those with travel experience

It doesn’t matter how far you’ve travelled or how exotic your destinations were. What does matter is the fact you are curious about other cultures, other people, other environments. Experienced travellers are often a bit more “street smart,” adaptable and resourceful—skills that can be useful when you are landing in Canada and are left to your own devices.

Open-minded people

Canada is a multicultural and diverse country—you have to embrace it. Generally speaking, folks here are pretty open to all kinds of beliefs, customs and traditions but you will have to accept the fact that you will deal with people from various backgrounds on a daily basis. It drives me crazy when some French quote the “immigration invasion” as a reason to move to Canada. Ahem… you do realize that 1) you will be an immigrant too in Canada 2) you are very likely to feel that so-called “invasion” in Canada as well, right?

People who are flexible

It’s good to have a plan but you need to be flexible with it. Those who want to achieve specific goals in terms of career development or quality of living fast are likely to be disappointed because you can only control so much in a new environment. Besides, you may miss great opportunities if you are not flexible enough!

Those fluent in English, French or both languages

Language skills do matter. You can always “get by” with minimum abilities in either official language but your life will be more difficult and you can feel isolated pretty quickly. The good news is, you can start improving your language skills in English or French right now, and you may be eligible for free classes when you land in Canada!

Those with work experience or training in several different fields

It’s good to have a career goal in mind but you can rarely make it happen overnight. Having experience and/or training in several different fields is always a good idea. “Jack of all trades” are often appreciated in Canada!

People who are resourceful

It drives me crazy when I receive emails begging me to “please explain how I can immigrate to Canada.” If you can’t even use a search engine to get the basics on immigration (tons of info is available online), how will you find a place to live in Canada? How will you figure out how to network, how to apply for a job, how to settle in a new country? I recently received the following comment on the article Arriving In Canada With The Permanent Residence:


i was think­ing after land­ing in Canada where you offi­cially don’t know a sin­gle thing there,do you have an assis­tant or some­thing like that?”

Yeah… no. No assistant, sorry. (Seriously?!)

People who don’t have too much baggage… literally and metaphorically!

We all have a story and we all have different reasons for moving abroad. But the miles you put between you and your family, friends and your country won’t magically erase everything. You can’t run away from your past and expect a fresh start to make everything better if you are negative or resentful.

What do you think? Would you consider yourself a good fit for Canada? Am I missing something from that list?

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