Charisse’s Story: Helping Newcomers in Canada Navigate Life
She was fortunate to have a straightforward immigration journey. So, she is using her knowledge and experiences in helping newcomers in Canada create an easier path for themselves.
In her own words, Charisse shares her immigration story.
Experiencing Life Around the Globe
Life before Canada was a lot of moving around because of work. I work in tech, and it has brought me to many places; so I lived in different countries aside from the Philippines before moving to Canada.
However, I wanted to live in a politically stable country where the rule of law truly governs. I wanted to live in a society that does its best to uphold the ideals and the practice of freedom, liberty, and self-determination.
In 2013, I was in Canada on a work assignment for more than a year when the idea to move permanently came to me at the tail end of my stay. It never occurred to me to live in Canada until I spent more than a year in the country. I returned to the Philippines, submitted my application for the federal skilled worker, then left for Dubai for another assignment.
Leaving Everything Behind
The challenge was the wait time. It’s always unnerving if the processing isn’t as fast as you hope. The other challenge was the actual packing up and leaving everything behind. I was enjoying my life and career in Dubai so I really didn’t want to leave.
Finding Strong Support from Her “Tribe”
I deeply appreciate the good fortune I had when I moved. I know it’s not always the case with new immigrants.
Fortunately, when I moved to Canada, I first settled in the city where I worked previously and already had a group of friends. I have no familial ties in Canada. So, I had to rely on my friends for emotional support and for practical help like getting my permanent residency paperwork done in my first week, getting my sim card, and renting a place. I had an apartment ready to rent as soon as I arrived because of my friends. Also, I had the same job waiting for me when I moved to Canada because I transferred to the Canadian branch of the company I worked for.
Expanding Her Network To Help Her Emotionally and Mentally
I was fortunate to already have a group of friends who were so helpful. I also had a job waiting when I arrived, so I didn’t experience the anxiety of job searching. This allowed me to have space to focus on other challenges of a newcomer like the cold Canadian winter, missing people I left behind and failing my road test. But I was determined to make the best out of the choice I made.
I joined meetups that fit my lifestyle, so I joined women’s groups and outdoor activity groups. I was able to grow my social and personal circle, and that helped me a lot emotionally, and mentally.
Helping Newcomers in Canada Navigate Their Work and Social Paths
Life in Canada is still a process of expansion. There are many social, political, and spiritual opportunities to grow in this country because of the principles of fundamental freedoms and rights. Just like any country, this is not a perfect society, but at least you stand on a “more” level playing field. Compared to the Philippines, there is more accountability and transparency in government, even though it’s also far from faultless.
I now work as a systems consultant for a tech company in Toronto and I would say life is comfortable. So I would like to share what I’ve learned with new immigrants adjusting to their life in Canada, especially to the Filipino community. I think by sharing what I’ve learned in my career, and my experience in living in different countries, I can contribute to newcomers navigating work and social paths in Canada. I am a strong advocate of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and I would like to encourage the Filipino youth to participate in this field that offers so many growth possibilities.
Passing On the Knowledge To Empower New Immigrants
My advice to future immigrants is to do your due diligence before you move. Do your research. I cannot stress this enough. Make a pre and post-arrival plan. Be flexible to adjust the plan based on your current situation, and new learnings.
Consider the move to Canada as a shift to expand your life. The country will give you many opportunities, so my advice is to develop the skills to grab those opportunities.
Upskill and continuous learning are important. Whether or not you have a lot of funds, there are many options for continuous learning. If you don’t know where to get immigrant service information when you’ve just arrived, check your nearest local library and ask if they have programs for new immigrants.
Don’t be shy. Please leave hesitancy at the door. It does require a cultural mind shift to step away from the familiar, but it will broaden your world.
While searching for your first job, volunteer in an organization to start immersing yourself in the new culture, work system, and language.
Find your tribe. Community support is important and is critical for your emotional and mental health. Find your support group, but do not limit yourself only to the familiar. Hopefully, you didn’t leave your country only to move to a micro version of your country. Canada is a diverse country, so explore the diversity, expand your tribe, and elevate your life.
Charisse is deeply grateful for her life experiences, opportunities, and network that enabled a less arduous immigration journey. She is equally grateful for the opportunity to support newcomers in Canada.
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!