Are You a Good Fit for Canada?

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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 experience 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 traveled or how exotic your destinations were. What does matter is the fact you are curious about other cultures, other people, other environments. Experienced travelers 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. Beside, 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 you 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 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… philosophical or otherwise! 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?


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. Agreed with everything you said. One thing I would like to emphasize on is “you are solely responsible for your affairs”. It is not someone else’s problem how you can find a job, a home, how to learn English or French or how to immigrate in the first place. If you don’t care to find a solution for yourself, why would anyone else do it?

    Many people, including myself, are more than willing to help if you have specific questions, but really, most questions I read could be answered “go to and browse for information”. My favorite kind of question is “I left Canada one week after I immigrated because [insert stupid reason here]. Now 5 years have passed and I need to renew my permanent resident status. What do I do?” Well, you’re screwed, buddy. What do you think they meant when they told you that you need to be in Canada for at least two years in each rolling five-year period??

    I find it kind of confusing that someone who has the spirit to immigrate to another country can’t even look up the most basic information, yet they can sign up on whatever forum and ask questions that either have been answered by many other users before or that they can look up on the most useful resource on the web: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (see above).

    All the same, if you are open-minded and have the pioneering spirit to explore something new, it will likely be a great experience. I don’t regret it a bit that I came to Canada.

    • We are on the same page!

      Like you, I can’t understand people who lose their PR status because they didn’t meet the residency requirements. Such a stupid way to lose your status!

  2. Hmmm, I remember doing some test online and getting points regarding immigrating to Canada. Because I hold an advanced degree, I think I scored a lot, but looking at your list, I think I’d have minimal problems. I have to say, I am considering Canada as a probable next destination, say, if I cannot stay here in Germany longer. Though at the current moment, I think I’ll be here in Germany for quite a bit. 🙂

  3. These kinds of posts are always fun for me to read as a Canadian. I love these “outsiders” perspectives – although you really aren’t an outsider, are you! You know what I mean…
    I think the no baggage point is valid for going anywhere in the world… “getting away” can help to a certain point, depending on the circumstance, but it probably won’t heal something 100% or deeply.

    • This list also applies to world travelers, like you! And I take no offence at the “outsider” label… I do feel Canadian but I can also adopt an immigrant perspective 😉

  4. Considering new immigrants will need to get a visa from Canada Immigration, I would add their three concerns:
    – you don’t have a criminal record in your country
    – you have a bit of money aside (visas are not cheap. And some of them requires you to have a certain amount of money aside)
    – you have some professional skills or already a job in Canada. If you have a degree on the list of the , that is even better.

    Things vary a bit depending on which visa you applied. For instance, for a partnership, you’re not required to be professionnally qualified but your partner will need to proove he/she has much more money aside then for other visa.

  5. I sometimes wonder if the government would ever approve me to sponsor my husband to come to Canada. I wonder this because I always fail the points’ tests to immigrate to my own country! It seems that I’m not very useful to my country, haha. Well, I comfort myself by telling myself that at least I speak both French and English.

    Yes, I know exactly what you mean about French people blowing off the rest of Canada. I hear about it all the time: there are many French people that rave to me about how great Québec is. Sure, Québec is a great place to live, but there are some great, safe and interesting places to live across Canada. I know it’s because a lot of them don’t speak English very well, and I do understand that, but it’s like the rest of Canada doesn’t exist. For many of them, Canada = Québec.

    • You would definitely be approved as a sponsor, it’s pretty much a given unless you have a huge criminal record or some other obvious red flag. Sponsorship is about following the process and as long as the relationship is genuine, you (and the person sponsored) are approved.

      I doubt I’d be approved to immigrate to France though 😆

      The Canada=Quebec drives me crazy. Nothing against Quebec but there is so much more to see than Montreal!

          • You wouldn’t believe it, but I had one French person tell me that he didn’t believe I was Canadian because I didn’t have the right accent. This person was educated to BAC +5 and he was sitting there arguing with me, telling me that there was no way I was Canadian because I didn’t sound Québécoise. I couldn’t believe my ears!

          • … I can easily believe it. A few years ago, I met some French in Paris looking for the “Quebec Embassy”. They wouldn’t believe me when I told them it didn’t exist.

  6. I do agree on all the criterias you listed, especially the “open-minded” part ! Moving from one country to another is something to consider long and hard. You have to just be willing to make a leap of faith and re-learn a different culture. When i moved to US, i had my fair share of travelling so i got used to experiencing new cultures, but it is always tough when your family is far away (luckily my sister was already in the US at that time). I think i am a good fit for Canada, though cold winters and i don’t fit well together lol

  7. Great post! I like that you include technical skills (language competencies), but your post really focuses on the value of transferable skills such as adaptation, resourcefulness… these are SO important, and almost impossible for Citizenship and Immigration to quantify.

  8. Hello zhu! I love your blog and I really love the way you write! I am planning on migrating to Canada as a skilled worker category A, but I will have to save money for at keast 3 years before I can do so. 🙂

    • I wish you the best of luck, then 🙂 I know it’s hard to wait and save money but really, in the long run, it’s very wise. Moving and settling in a new country is expensive!

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