July 1st is Canada Day. Each year on this day there are celebrations and festivities in communities all across the country.
However, with the tragic revelations of unmarked graves found at former Residential Schools in Saskatchewan and B.C., this Canada Day will be a more contemplative event for many Canadians. July 1 will be a time to reflect on the impact of past wrongs, consider the way forward, and what each of us can do.
At Arrive, we believe that education is the first step on our journey to reconciliation, and that with a greater understanding of the issues Indigenous people in Canada face, we can make it a reality. Over the next few months we will share articles by an expert in the First Nations community to help educate our newcomer community on historic truths and the injustices that indigenous people have faced and continue to face in Canada.
Canada still has so much to offer the world and to newcomers arriving from around the globe. We spoke to a few of our newcomer friends and asked them to share their reflections on moving to Canada.
Xiaolun (Lucy) Zhang came to Canada with her mother to visit a family friend in Vancouver in 2011 and came to Vancouver to study. She was 15 when she started high school in Canada, living at a homestay. While Vancouver is a city that people from China can feel very comfortable in (with a large Chinese community), Xiaolun’s parents wanted her to experience more of Canada, improve her English skills, and prepare to work anywhere in the world. In her story, Xiaolun talks about embracing a brand new culture, education system, and food.
“Because I’m a foodie, I enjoy food from all over the world. That’s why I like living in Toronto. You can get food from anywhere. Food is a really special thing. It reminds you of all the memories, the cultures, and all the things you have experienced in the past. I miss the home cooking from my homestay mom. It was a home away from home. The food they cooked for me was very special, very different from Chinese food: I really enjoyed their Canadian home-cooking. It reminds me of the good times I had with them and it will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Canada, I am thankful for the breathtaking natural scenery, the wonderful people who welcomed me with open arms and all the opportunities that have allowed me to thrive here. I’m glad to call you my second home. Best wishes for great adventures to come!”
Read Xiaolun’s Story, Moving to Canada from China: Embrace the unknown
From an interview with Prince John, Commercial Account Manager, RBC.
Prince John moved to Canada in 2018 from Chennai, India. He had a well-established and promising career, but the question of where he saw his kids growing up caused him to look outward. Prince wanted to build a future for his kids in a place with a more level playing field and opportunities for all. That search led him to Canada. Prince shares his story of looking beyond the comfort of community to understand Canadian culture, achieve career and life goals, and truly make Canada home.
“I am a firm believer in integration. As newcomers, we have a tendency to be very attached to our own community. I am an advisor to my community, an influencer, and I encourage people to stretch out to understand the breadth and beauty of the customs in this country. When you come to Canada, you need to embrace the multiculturalism that Canada stands for.
Canada is a country that doesn’t stop at inviting immigrants, but walks the extra mile, by investing in each immigrant and their children to help them succeed. Best wishes on Canada Day.”
Read Prince’s Story, Making Canada Your New Home Starts Long Before You Arrive
From an interview with Clem Leveau-Vallier, Head of Marketing, Arrive
Clemence (Clem) was born in France but grew up abroad. She spent most of her childhood living in the U.S. and returned to France as a teenager. While studying in the U.K. Clem met her husband, and a few years later, they decided they would travel the world to find where they wanted to live and start their family. Clem visited sixteen countries during the course of their 18-month trip and fell in love with Toronto. As it turns out, the city was one of their final stops on their 2012 journey to find their new home.
“Throughout our travels we would try to picture ourselves living in a place—and Toronto is a really great place to live. It’s so diverse and multicultural. People from all corners of the world are living together side-by-side, not just politely ignoring each other, but genuinely interested in each other’s cultures.
Our three children are all Canadian born. We’re so happy that we’ve been able to bring them up in both official languages. We speak French at home and our kids go to an English language school. Their classmates are from all over the world, which enriches the learning experience.
Canada is not perfect. There are real issues in Canada’s history. The treatment of First Nations People and the Residential School system in particular, must be reconciled. But it’s the way Canada values diversity, and welcomes newcomers from around the world that drew me here and made me fall in love with this country. It has held up that promise for the nine years that I’ve lived here and I’m really happy that my children and I are Canadian. Best wishes on Canada Day.”
From an interview with Avani Singh, Banking Advisor, RBC.
Going abroad to study was a dream for Avani Singh. Only a handful of people from her small town in India had ever left the country for their education. Yet when she was 16, Avani decided she would go to North America for better opportunities. Avani chose to come to Canada to study finance at University of Toronto (U of T). Her decision was based on the quality of a Canadian education, and its reputation as a welcoming and peaceful country. She shares her story of overcoming challenges, discovering new experiences, helping international students, and starting a career in Canada.
“As a newcomer, you can feel stuck between two countries and two cultures. Most international students have developed the social skills to fit in and they blend in very well. That’s the way I was. But it made me question my culture and my identity; it made me question myself a lot.
I felt homesick the first year I was away from home, and sad that I was not taking part in the festivals and celebrations that had been so important to me back home. Over the next couple of years, I reached out to student groups on campus and other support groups who essentially hosted big Indian celebrations like Diwali and I joined the Indian Students’ Society at U of T. That helped my cultural experiences take shape.
Canada welcomed me with open arms, allowing me to fit in while staying true to my cultural roots. I am so incredibly lucky to be living in this multicultural, diverse, and beautiful country. Here’s to finding a home away from home.“
Read Avani’s Story, Finding Support, Resources and Yourself While Studying in Canada
From an interview with Lucas Mendonca, Product Manager, Arrive
Lucas Mendonca came to Canada from Brazil in 2017. He had a feeling in his heart that he needed to go to another country, but that was difficult to imagine due to language barriers. He and his wife Hannah did their research and moved to Canada. Lucas saw it as a place that would give them the chance to be themselves, where they could learn English, where people respect each other even if they speak with an accent, where you could work hard and succeed, and where they could build a new life together.
“I remember before we came to Canada, my wife Hannah told me she didn’t want to be a mother in Brazil. She wanted our future son or daughter to grow up in a place without all the violence and insecurity—a place where they would have the opportunity to be who they want to be and do what they want to do. It was very difficult to leave my mother back home, but I had to think of our future. My mother told me, ‘Our kids are born to us, but they belong to the world. Lucas, go. Make me proud.’
My work at Arrive is not just a job, it’s my career mission: to create a product that will help all newcomers achieve their goals in Canada, and not face the struggles I experienced when I arrived here.
For Canada Day, I wish newcomers all the best on their journey to becoming new Canadians. Every Canada Day to come, you will be reminded that in spite of all the challenges and the difficulties along the way, you achieved your goals, you achieved your dreams.”