C = Claudia; E = Emiliano
How would you describe your lives before coming to Canada?
C: In Colombia, I was a young woman with a close-knit family, good friends, and a thriving career in psychology because I aspired to help my community that was sadly criminalized by trafficking and violence.
E: I was a hardworking individual in Argentina. Having worked in my dad’s photo shop since age 10, I would save money for graphic design courses, travel, and other interests.
Why did you choose Canada?
C: My mother had extended family in Toronto, and I wanted to learn English here after university. It was my priority because most research in my field was in English.
E: I always liked to travel and live in a different environment. At 15, I already wanted to immigrate to the USA but my family forbade it because of my age. But hoping to be a translator with the UN, I eventually convinced my mother to let me study English in Canada. With her support and some savings, I managed to finance this trip.
What were your first impressions of Canada?
C: I was surprised by Canada’s order, organization, and the respect of law-abiding citizens for each other in a multicultural environment. I admired Canadians for being polite, helpful, and kind. I felt if everyone could live in such peace here, it was where I would call home.
E: My first important impression was everyone’s kindness. I kept thinking how organized and clean Canada was, and how this was where I would want to put down roots and raise a family.
How did you shape your career paths after coming to Canada?
C: Initially planning to continue to be a psychologist, I needed to go back to school for this path. Meanwhile, after a government-funded course in Early Childhood Education, I began working with little kids. Knowing I enjoyed my work, my employer encouraged me to study at Humber College that qualified me to work in full-day kindergarten. Then through completing teacher training at Niagara University, I am now a certified teacher in Ontario.
E: After high school in Argentina with Canadian equivalencies, I earned official credentials as an interpreter. However, I also made sandwiches, served at drive-thrus, took driver’s license pictures, and renewed license plate stickers. Gradually, I worked in manufacturing where Spanish was needed, and where I ended up in international trade. With further studies at Seneca College and Brock University, I am now qualified to teach international trade. To further develop leadership skills, I am completing an MBA through the University of Fredericton.
In turn, how has Canada shaped your lives since coming here?
C: Canada has definitely made me more determined to pursue my dreams. It has also shown me the importance of inclusion that values all members for who they are. I am proud to have adopted a new language and way of life. I have come to love Canada because it has given me a family, a home, friends, and a career. I will always love Colombia, but Canada has shaped a better version of myself through all my learning and experience here.
E: I have grown to be a much better person through experiences that I would otherwise not gain had I not moved here. I have learned the importance of recognizing immigrants’ traditions, but also for them to genuinely respect Canada’s cultures. Now that I have lived here more than half my life, I am blessed with the privilege of raising my Canadian-born children in this beautiful country.
What have you learned throughout this journey?
C and E: That Canada is a great country. That in life there is always another opportunity, and that with consistency and hard work, anything can be accomplished.
This journey also shows us that even when we are far from our home of origin, Canada can become our true home. We also believe that no matter where people came from and how different they are, there is a place where we can all live in peace and that place is Canada.
We have also learned that when it seems hard to continue, it’s possible to overcome difficulties with the support of a caring community.
Also, we think Canadian winters are long but beautiful, and that summers are truly exciting.
Most importantly, we are proud to raise our children in this country. We know we made the right choice by deciding to set roots in this beautiful place.
What was your Canadian dream? Have you achieved it?
C: I didn’t have one particular dream, but it was exciting to think about living in a country known for its beauty, peace, and quality of life. I have certainly achieved that sense of peacefulness and tranquility not only for myself but also for my family.
E: My Canadian dream was to live peacefully in a country where people would have respect and love for each other. I think that I am lucky to achieve this dream every day.
What else would you tell others about making Canada your home?
C: It has definitely been a long journey but a rewarding one. I am happy I chose Canada because I feel safe, welcome, and cared for. I have a strong sense of belonging in this country. This is definitely my children’s country and I am glad they are growing up in such a multicultural environment where they learn about and celebrate everyone’s uniqueness.
E: I believe I have achieved all the opportunities that I searched for. If you work hard, your dreams can come true … can this happen anywhere else? Possibly, but I am pretty sure that there is a Canadian dream for everyone who seeks it.