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(No) Bitching Allowed

Timmies Cup Left Behind
Timmies Cup Left Behind

How much can you complain about your new country after you immigrate?

Some wish they hadn’t immigrated to Canada and criticize everything and others praise everything but now hate their home country. The truth must be somewhere in between.

Immigrants usually go through different phases. Love when everything is new, frustration when the first difficulties appear, and then eventually everything settles down as the person finds a place in society.

But some will never get over the second stage.

Immigrating is harder than one thinks. The paperwork part is easy even if it is frustrating at times — the real problem is adapting, and not everyone is equal.

Some think because they live in a “poor” country life will be easier in Canada. Immigrating is thus seen escaping for a better life — it’s gotta be better in North America, right? Materially speaking, it may be true. Yet life can be tough in many ways. For example, those coming from countries where family is very important may feel isolated without a helpful social network. A few years ago, I talked with a young Moroccan guy on a forum. He has married a Québec woman and couldn’t wait to go live with her. I had news a few months later: he had settled with her in a remote village, couldn’t find a job and he missed home and his family. His dream of a better life in North America certainly didn’t match his expectations.

So, why do people fail to adapt?

I recently received a very angry comment to Top Ten Reasons I Love Canada. The author, “Cansick”, said:

Canadians, particularly in Toronto are worst that people from Paris. They are rude, they discriminate and they don’t help you. They think that they have the perfect system, society and way of life but far from that. What amazes me more is that the Torontonians, think that they are perfect but they aren’t.
People, if you are thinking in coming to Canada, be prepared to the Canadian “I don’t care” and rudeness. Yes, people think that the so mentioned politeness and kindness are so but in fact, they are passive agressive attitudes. […] Canadians, and Torontonians particularly, don’t tolerate your level of preparation, that’s why they don’t allow you to be a medicine doctor, a teacher or an architect. […] Again, my description is not rossy. I don’t like them, and they are not as you are describing them.

Beyond his angry words (and of course, the spam for some “I hate Canada forum” that I removed), I can tell this person didn’t research Canada very well and had high expectations that weren’t met.

I can understand that: I sort of “ended up” in Canada and I really didn’t have a life plan when I came here. At times, I found the system frustrating. Come on, you guys know it: I’m the French woman who had to take a French as a second language test at university to be admitted!

But I think that at one point, immigrants have to take their responsibilities. Sure, the system could be better/ faster/ easier etc. Yet, over 250,000 people make Canada their home every year! One of the main issues remains the problem of foreign credential recognition. To select skilled workers and to not let them work in their profession is an economic nonsense. That said, the problem is well-known especially for regulated occupations such as doctors, engineers, accountants etc. If you are determined to work as a doctor in Canada, great. But you know it won’t be easy. You can try to beat the system (some succeeded) but don’t bitch about it if you choose to immigrate to Canada with full knowledge of the facts. And getting these facts is your job as a prospective immigrant.

As for those who claim Canadians are racist… Do all Canadians accept multiculturalism? Maybe not, even though open hate towards immigrants is not tolerated. You may have to fight some stereotypes, especially in smaller towns. It is also worth noting that Canadian immigration policies are rarely questioned — worse case scenario, the debate is about raising the number of immigrants accepted every year.

Landed immigrants are certainly not second-class citizens. However, settling takes time. Accept it. When I was teaching, I met new French immigrants whose attitude really got on my nerves. On her second day at the school as a teacher, one of the women who was about my age took me aside and said to me: “this job really sucks, I can’t believe I’m down to doing that“. Excuse me? I worked in a call center, as a secretary, as a receptionist… hell, I even sold flowers in front of LCBOs before I could even get that job! Holier-than-thou attitude gets you nowhere… if you think you are too good for that job, go out and look for a better one.

Immigrating is indeed a learning process and you need an open mind for the challenge. If you are not happy, that’s fine. You can try to make things better by adapting, looking for help, getting involved in politics or lobbying for change. Or you can take your responsibilities and question you decision to immigrate. But sitting around, bitter and all, and blaming the system without doing anything won’t get you anywhere.

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