Chimma’s Story: Helping New Immigrants in British Columbia
Imagine packing up your comfortable life to move to another country then find the world at a standstill. It is challenging to say the least. But we find ways, resilience, and knowledge to thrive. It’s even better if we use these to help others who come after us. This is the inspiring story of Chimma and how she established BC Settlement Buddy with the aim of helping new immigrants in British Columbia.
In this post, Chimma answers questions that you and I are curious to know about moving to Canada.
How was life before Canada?
We were pretty comfortable in Nigeria before we immigrated to Canada.
We had great jobs, lived in a beautiful estate, and the kids attended a private preschool/daycare. My husband was a Supply Chain Manager for an International Beverage company while I was an independent business consultant.
We loved traveling as a family so we had a budget for local and international travels which we embarked on according to a schedule throughout the year.
What motivated you to come to Canada?
Despite all we had, we wanted a better standard of living especially for the kids.
We wanted to be in a system that works; where law and order are taken seriously, basic amenities are provided for, education is top-notch, and the health care system is reliable.
We wanted a country where our kids can have a better future, where we know they would thrive even when we are no longer with them.
Having done our research, Canada was top on our list. It also has the easiest application process and faster route to citizenship.
How did you come to Canada?
My family and I came to Canada via the Express Entry, Federal Skilled Worker Program in 2019.
I have a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and am also younger so I became the primary applicant.
What challenges did you experience when you were applying to Canada and when you were a newcomer? How did you surpass these challenges?
The entire application process for permanent residency took eight months. We didn’t experience any challenges as our CRS score was way above the cut-off at that time.
We had all the required documents as well as the money (proof of fund).
Because we were comfortable at that time, it was a plan B for us. We had other projects which we continued to execute while waiting for a decision on our application.
Three months after we arrived in Canada, the world was locked down due to COVID-19.
It was really tough to make new friends, understand how the system works, and do all the things we needed to do as new permanent residents.
The major challenges we faced were:
- Finding accommodation as nobody wanted to rent a place to a newcomer without a job. We eventually got a place because we went for the viewing with our new Canadian friends (whom we met at the church). They agreed to provide references for us which convinced the landlord.
- Getting a driver’s license for my spouse. He attempted the road test a couple of times before he got it.
- Finding a comparable job for my spouse. We were advised by an immigrant settlement agency to start with minimum wage jobs and work our way up. This was a very wrong advice that took us almost two years to correct.
- I had a baby in the nick of the pandemic. My mom’s visa is still not out till date. It was very difficult taking care of the baby and two other toddlers without help.
How is life in Canada now?
Presently, a lot of things have taken shape. We are much more in a comfortable space.
My spouse has an amazing job in his field that is comparable to what he had in Nigeria.
We moved to a new and bigger house with lots of space for the kids to play as well as an amazing neighbourhood.
I now offer settlement services with the goal of helping new immigrants to British Columbia. The services I offer are what I wish I had got when I first came to Canada. Now, I have more clarity on what to do, how to go about it, and when to do it. This is why I am offering those services so that newcomers won’t make the same mistakes we did.
Our core services include:
- Settlement Action Plan
- Pre-arrival & Post-arrival Guide
- Finding Accommodation
- City Tours / Daycations
- Settlement Support Groups
More information on each of our services can be found at the BC Settlement Buddy website. Our goal is to help newcomers settle in easily and quickly.
What tips can you share to help newcomers and future immigrants to Canada?
Be well informed of what life is really like in the specific province and city you intend to settle in.
Have a settlement action plan to avoid wasting time – not just a plan in your head, but a well-mapped-out plan to guide you in achieving your goals in Canada.
Join useful groups and follow useful social media pages.
Research, research, and research before you move.
There is no shortage of successful immigrants in Canada. But, successful immigrants who take the step of helping new immigrants thrive are a special breed.
Thank you for the tips, support, and inspiration for new immigrants, Chimma!
Were you inspired by this story? Please help spread the word about this blog as a way of helping newcomers in Canada find inspiration as well. Thank you!