Lessons from Away


Continuing on the immigration theme, did you know that Canada has the second highest population of foreign born citizens in the world? (Only Australia is higher.

The 6.2 million foreign-born people in Canada came from over 200 different countries: 58.3% from Asian countries; 16.1% from European countries; 10.9% from Central and South American; 10.6% from Africa.

Canada is also widely thought to be the second easiest country in the world to which to immigrate. Australia again wins out because they have a wider range of skills qualifications than Canada. Canada also has a greater disconnect between credentials and actual jobs.

Seventy percent of immigrants chose to live in either Toronto (40%), Montreal (14.9%) or Vancouver (13.7%).

Ottawa-Gatineau is home to over 200,000 foreign-born citizens.

One of them is Guillermo.  Some Ottawa bloggers have met Guillermo. He’s a charming young man who immigrated from South America to Canada some years ago with his family.

Guillermo maintains two blogs. On The Tired Prop he practices his English and rants and comments about every day stuff. His other blog, Los Ziegler en Canada, is in Spanish and has become a source of information and discussion for and with other immigrants and people wishing to immigrate.

Guillermos’s current project is a bridging exercise between native Canadians and foreign-born Canadians. His readers were recently asked why they chose to make Canada their home and whether this country has met their expectations: have their been any surprises or disappointments?

The answers are so touching I asked if I could quote some excerpts here (crudely translated by me using Google Translate).

Alfredo says:

My wife found a job without a problem. Equality at work is a reality here. She has had no difficulty because of her age, or the fact that she has children or because she is a woman

For me, Canada gave me back my family; gave me the opportunity to discover and re-invent myself; gave me the freedom to become a happy person. Thank you Canada for giving me the opportunity to be here.

 Jaime says:

Compared to the US, Canada allows you more freedom of thought; allows you to be proud of your country of origin unlike the US where you are expected to assimilate completely. In Canada people want to know about you and your country and can have an intelligent conversation with you about it.

Paola says:

We were expecting to have a hard time fitting in, re-adjusting and getting settled, but Canada proved us wrong in every single way. I was expecting friendly but distant people  – not the case. I was expecting to have a hard time getting a similar job  to the one I had in Argentina usning my experience and education – I got a job only 2 weeks after I got to Canada and in a better position.  And, I LOVE THE WINTER!! I still can not believe our luck.

Enzo says:

I had the chance to visit Toronto as a tourist. I literally fell in love with Canada, actually I think we had a mutual infatuation, to the point that I did not want to return to Argentina.

Canada has been extremely generous with me. I always have high expectations of this country, but Canada is always a step ahead of my expectations.

I now live in a country where my rights are respected (and my obligations enforced), people are educated, kind, respectful. I live in country where I make my living out of my hobby, and just for that I kiss the soil every time I return to this country after being away.

On Easter weekend, during a family dinner, someone asked me if I was thinking to retire in Argentina (because my money will be more profitable there). My answer was no. I never have never felt about a country the way I feel about Canada. No other country makes me feel this. I am here to stay (for good or for bad)

I also love the snow, driving in the snow, all the fuss about snow storms and then nothing happens. I LOVE IT!

It’s not all roses, of course. Some of the disappointments people noted were the poor quality of our roads (of all things), our health care system (no surprise), and our general lack of culture. Aside from some areas of Quebec, we apparantly seem to take little pride in creating beauty – in our architecture, our food, clothes,  lifestyle, etc.

I’m sure with the vast and varied foreign influences we welcome into the country, our culture will improve over time.  Adopting ethnic foods, clothing, art and even lifestyles cannot help but enrich our young country and give it dimension and beauty.

Just hearing from people who appreciate living in Canada so much already makes me see this country through different eyes.