When we get to know a character in a book or a film or even a person on LinkedIn for that matter, the picture we form – our understanding of that person – is coloured by three things: what they do, what they say, and what others say about them. This is also true of countries.
We see what Canada does every day. We witness the country’s actions on the international stage standing up for human rights, or negotiating on behalf of Canadian industries in international trade agreements. Most recently, Canada’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 and the government programs to support Canadians (and newcomers) affected by the pandemic demonstrate the kind of country Canada is. Nowhere is this more clear than in Canada’s approach to immigration and its treatment of refugees.
Canada speaks for itself when it says welcome; we are an open society. We respect and admire newcomers, and we understand that what they bring to Canada benefits us all. We are a country of immigrants – acknowledging the first peoples of Canada – and we will continue to grow and prosper with immigration as a key aspect of our country’s economic and cultural policies.
So, what do people have to say about Canada? As a writer on the Arrive team, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing many newcomers. As a proud Canadian who values our reputation for being polite, kind, welcoming and helpful people, it makes my heart glow to hear that newcomers recognize and truly value our Canadian-ness. So, whether you are an old or new Canadian, Happy Canada Day! Ten newcomers tell us what they love about Canada.
“In my opinion, Canada is the greatest country on earth. I feel very fortunate to be here, and I don’t think I’ll be able to give back to the level that I have been given. I am thankful for the support I have received. Canadians are hospitable people: they welcomed me with big hearts and smiling faces. They supported me every step of the way, in one way or another. Had it not been for Canada and Canadians, I might not have survived. But because I came to Canada, I can now thrive.“
Read Saeed’s story: Coming to Canada to survive, and discovering how to thrive
“I love this country. I was so well received from the first day I arrived. I’m so grateful. I feel optimistic regarding my professional life and my personal life. Canada is a very safe country. I can freely walk the streets. I live in a house, I have no fences, and for me, this is amazing. I always heard good things about Canada. So, I knew how welcoming Canadians were towards newcomers, refugees or anyone from a diverse background. The only bad thing I heard was about the weather – winter. This is nothing. I love doing barbecues, and even when it’s cold and snowing, we barbecue in my backyard.
Canadians are more givers than takers. As a society, we help each other. One of the great things that I found is that despite COVID-19, or because of it, people are more willing to talk and work with each other. People are even more warm – more willing to help others.”
Read Laura’s story: Tips for starting a new job while social distancing
“Since coming to Canada, I’ve met people born in Canada and people from other countries; I’ve met immigrants and non-immigrants, and not one person has said, “I’m sorry I won’t be able to help you.” Everybody tried in their own way to help out, whether it was offering to look at my resume or to put me in touch with someone else who they thought would be in a better position to help.
Canada taught me to be very patient. It also taught me to be more grateful. Some very pleasant people and surprises have come my way. People have been wonderfully kind. I am grateful, and I feel glad that I am where I am.”
“Initially, I was unsure about the work culture in Canada. I was thinking, ‘OK, it’s a first-world country with huge organizations. You’re just like a number; people won’t be that friendly’ – that sort of thing. In fact, the career environment in Canada is definitely conducive to newcomers. If you have experience and you know your stuff, you don’t have to worry. People are generally not out to trip you up or make you fear, but to help you be your best. In a job interview, they’re saying, ‘OK, feel comfortable, feel at home – let’s see what you can do.’ I really appreciate that, and I thrive in that kind of environment.”
“I feel comfortable here. At work, there is a real camaraderie: we are close, we are more like family. The guys here, the team that I work with here, they’re very knowledgeable and very willing to share their knowledge: I’ve learned a lot. I’m right at home here.
Also, Canadians are genuinely nice. If you’re walking into the subway station – whenever you’re going through a doorway for that matter – the person in front of you will hold the door for you. And it’s consistent. Everybody does it!”
Read Princeton’s story: Balancing multiple roles on the way to realizing Canada goals
“Canada’s natural beauty is what attracted me to the country; a short trip to eastern Canada in 2008 had my wife and myself convinced that this was the place we should move to. I really like the country – It’s not a society where the individual is King. In Canada, we care for each other. I don’t have kids, but I’m OK paying taxes so my neighbour’s kid can go to school. I hope to grow old here.”
Red Oscar’s story: Leave your comfort zone and realize your Canadian dreams
“My wife and I were on vacation in New York in 2013 and decided to just hop across the border and see what north of the U.S. was — and Canada left a big impression on me. It’s a really beautiful country, and the people are very nice, and they have a strong willingness to help. I’m not sure where Canadians get that, but I find it very impressive: people offer you information, guidance and connections.
My most important goal was to give my family better life opportunities. It was about my kids having the best opportunities for education, health, and just for overall, all-around development and wellbeing. There are many opportunities in Canada for new immigrants. Be patient. You will find the right one for you.”
Read Dafe’s story: Find your opportunity and be prepared to take it
Samantha and Justin
“In Canada, you’re not alone. There are people here to guide you. It may seem scary, but remember, everybody’s going through the same thing. You realize that there are so many newcomers here and that Canada is a place for migrants, and it’s open to all. -Samantha
I‘ve learned to adapt. I’ve learned to accept the hardships that come with being a migrant. I want to have a house, to have a family, and to eventually become a Canadian citizen.” -Justin
“I’ve always felt great here. Even when I felt bad about things that were happening in my life, I always felt I belonged here. I never felt like I was a foreigner or an immigrant. I just felt that I was hustling, and that was tough, but I never felt isolated here. I feel like I’ve been here all along. I love it.
I want my kids to find their paths. And I think that here they are already on their way. When I went to my first parent-teacher meetings and saw what they were learning in school, and saw just how happy they were, I was literally crying. I realized that this is the kind of place I always wanted my kids to grow up in. I know we made the right choice.
My Canada goal is to travel across the country and really experience everything that Canada is all about: The 100% Canadian experience.”
Read Roxana’s story: Set your goals. Find your path. Follow your dreams
“I’ve met so many nice people, friendly people, kind people. I started to discover the Canadian lifestyle, and I realized this is the way people need to live. People from all around the world have come here to follow their hopes and dreams for a better life. And they found it here, in Canada.
I felt a sense of community; people care for others. For example, when I first arrived in Canada, I was in the grocery store, standing and looking at the shelf, trying to find some common product. A person walked up, looked me in the eyes (probably saw I was lost), smiled and said, “can I help you?” A total stranger, just passing by, like they weren’t doing anything special. For me, it was a big deal. I believe in Canada. I believe that together we can build a brighter future for our kids. This is the right place to start a family. This is where I want to be.”
Read Mykola’s story: Come for a visit. Stay for a new life: A Canada love story
“When I moved to Canada, I didn’t have half of the things that I have right now: economically, professionally, and personally. I just visualized them all – even daydreaming about them and making them happen. I remember imagining one day coming into Canada and joining the Canadian citizens’ line instead of the tourist line. After a holiday visiting family in 2018, my husband, Diego and I returned to Canada for the first time as permanent residents. When we got to the counter, the immigration officer looked at our Venezuelan passports, our PR cards, and said, ‘Welcome home.’”
Read Antonietta’s story: To achieve your goals in Canada, you have to see them first
|Find out about virtual Canada Day celebrations across the country|
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