The SEIU-West Workers of Colour Multicultural Mentorship Committee, (WOCMMC) want to celebrate International Migrants Day on December 18th with you!
- Read WOCMMC stories (like the ones below) of what it was like coming to Canada.
- Submit your migrant story to [email protected] for your chance to win a prize! Deadline is December 31st, 2023.
- Join us for a Potluck and Karaoke Party in Moose Jaw!
Hello, my name is Yolanda Sagayo and I came to Canada in March of 1991.
There was a lot of snow at that time. I landed in Saskatoon Airport at 9:30pm, it was already dark so I couldn't see much.
I couldn't wait to wake up the next day because I wanted to see the snow, so once it was bright, I quickly went out to play with the snow & lay down on it. I was so excited!
After a few weeks went by I started to get lonely, and I missed my family back home. I ended up spending lots of money just to call home since back then, there was no internet, and at that time phone calls were very expensive.
Saskatoon was a small city at the time. I remember all the stores downtown would be closed on Sundays, there were no cars passing by and it was so quiet.
People were so friendly; it was so small that all of the Filipino community knew pretty much everyone. We were like one big family.
I went to school in 1994 and took cosmetology. After I graduated, I got a job and worked right away.
After more than 10 years of working as a hairdresser I decided to work as a Care Aide, I worked for more than 10 years in Saskatoon.
Saskatoon is so crowded now, it's a big change to me. I somewhat miss the small Saskatoon of the 90's.
I moved near Davidson in 2008, and I've been working in the Davidson Health Centre for more than 10 years now.
I love it here and it's definitely become my hometown. It's a friendly community and a beautiful town to raise kids in. My son went to school here in Davidson from Grade 1-12 and he enjoyed it, I've never heard of any serious problems. I think I'm a small-town kind of person. I love the quietness and being closer to nature.
Canada is one of the best countries to live in, in my experience. But of course, I’ll always miss my own country, and I still make an effort to go home every 2 years. Except for the past few years with the pandemic, it was devastating and depressing but I’m glad it’s starting to get better.
Since I was born in the Philippines, I have a lot of good memories of families and friends. So, both Canada and the Philippines are my home at the moment. I’ve been to a few countries and a smile is always the best way to communicate. So keep smiling! Thanks for reading!
On July 13, 2007, we arrived in Saskatoon with my two children, with my $150 US dollars in my pocket to start our new life. My family here in Saskatoon gave us a roof and one month supply of food and groceries when we moved to our apartment to start with on Aug 1,2007.
We stayed at my cousin's home when we arrived, and I started my job at Maple Leaf Consumer Foods as a Line Food Worker and was awarded a job after a month as a Hazard Analyst Critical Control Point Person. It was a big adjustment for me as I was a Registered Medical Technologist in the Philippines, and a Senior Sales Consultant at Holiday Inn in Manila and New World Renaissance Hotel before moving to Canada. Years after I graduated from university with having a good job in the Philippines, wearing corporate attire every day and with three inches heels, I arrived here and started a completely different job; I was wearing steel toed shoes, a helmet, gown and a hair net. On my first day at work at Maple Leaf, I was crying and wanting to go back to the Philippines, as I said that I couldn't do the job and working in a freezer was killing me. Thinking about my children's future and being a single mom; I was determined to continue with my work at Maple Leaf Consumer Foods and in September 2007, I got my second full time job at the GC Teleservices call center. While waiting for my 2 years employment bond at Maple Leaf, I sent my credentials to Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science to make sure that I was qualified to do my profession as a Medical Technologist here in Canada. Unfortunately, they were asking me to go back to school for 2 years to do my clinical and other subjects for me to qualify as a Laboratory Technologist.
It was not possible for me to go back to school, as I couldn't afford it while at the same time putting food on our table in order to survive. God gave me a chance to be Medical Laboratory Assistant when I applied to the Saskatoon Health Region in 2008. Until that time, I was holding down two full time jobs from the day I landed in Canada. I realized how hard it was to live here, but I'm blessed to have lots of family support and guidance.
It was a long journey and I'm blessed to call Canada my home. I'm thankful for all the opportunities and blessings. Canada changed our lives, and I forever am thankful to Lord God Almighty.
My Name is Valentine Osadugba, I am an immigrant from Nigeria, and I came to Canada on the June 6th, 2018. Here is my immigration story.
Before migrating to Canada, I was working with Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) as part of EMT and also with IT team. FRSC is saddled with the responsibilities of rescuing accident victims of the road and issuance of vehicle number plates and drivers' licenses. A close friend of mine, who was a permanent residence in Manitoba, was the first person to talk to me about migrating to Canada. At first, I ignored him but after much talk, I decided on migrating to Canada in 2012, but I could not come to Canada until 2018, as my application for permanent residence in Canada was denied twice before it was finally approved in January of 2018.
The application process was a very stressful one. It ranges from writing an English Examination to Credentials evaluation, undergoing medicals and having an equivalent of CAD $6,000 saved in your account for each family member as a settlement fund. I migrated to Canada with My wife and two kids which means I must provide unencumbered CAD $24,000 in my account. My application was approved on the 17th of January, but I waited until June to move. This was based on the advice of a friend who told me that January to April are colder months, which I might not find easy to cope with if I come during the cold.
I decided to get a Canadian education so that I could get another Job. I was employed as a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) at Bengough Health Centre. I was going from Assiniboia to Bengough for my shifts. My family decided to move to bigger city in October of 2019, and we chose Regina. I was employed as CCA at Parkside Special Home (Formerly Extendicare). We bought our own house in April of 2021, and we became Canadian Citizens on the 11th of January, 2023. The saddest part of my immigration was my inability to travel to Nigeria in 2021 to attend my mum’s funeral, due to the COVID-19 travel ban. So far so good, we have chosen Canada as our home. We love the diversity in Canada and the friendliness of most of the Saskatchewan people. Settling down as an immigrant has not been easy because of so many things that are different from where we came from, but we are moving on. We adjusted to differences in food, dress code, culture, weather, people and so much more.
I want to thank WOCMMC for giving me the opportunity to find another family away from home.
I have attached the picture of our first day in Canada and the day we became Canadian citizens to this short story.
Jeanne:My name is Jeanne Javinal and I am an immigrant from the Philippines. I landed here in Saskatoon in the month of June. So, I was not aware back then that the beautiful weather I experienced during my first 3 months in Canada would be replaced by 6 months of me not wanting to go out in the cold.
My first day here, I remembered we went to the Forestry Farm, and we had a BBQ party. I am a nature lover, so I fell in love right away when I saw the scenery back then.
No traffic! That’s the first thing that caught my attention too during my first car ride, because I came from the land of traffic jams.
I remembered when I had to go job hunting for the first time, and every interview I attended, I was asked for Canadian experience. In the back of my mind, I thought how am I going to get that experience if nobody will give me a chance to be employed?
I am lucky that I had my mom and my sister here when I first came here. They both made it easier for me to adjust to new weather, new food, new culture, and new way of life.
Before, I always wanted to go back to the Philippines. I felt like an outcast here, after work, I always went home and hid inside my room. I told myself, I will never ever feel that I belong.
But guess what? After more than 25 years of being here, I feel at ease now. I feel I belong, I still go home right away after work and hide inside my home, but I can say that this is my new home.
Leta:My name is Leta Raquel-Lee. I came to Canada (Toronto) from England in 1992 via the caregiver program. I left my family in England knowing that someday, I’ll go back there again.
I was young when I left the Philippines, eager to have the adventure of travels. I was lucky enough to have found a friend who hooked me up with a Canadian family (a doctor and a nurse), who helped me process my papers to come to Canada to take care of their three kids, plus two dogs!
When you were young, you had that determination to make it happen for yourself. But sooner or later, what you missed is that you were away from family. That really kicked in when holidays came; and I saw people with their own families spending time together. Even though I was accepted by my employers as part of their family, the feeling of “missing home” was real and put me down at times. The culture shock and the emotional pains were real.
So, I kept busy by working from Monday to Friday, and on the weekends, visiting with friends, and in-between I was studying at night. I had survived somehow, and I'm so grateful that those years of being away early from my family had provided me the independence and freedom to become who I am today.
My husband, Robert Lee was born in Montreal (he describes himself as a half Acadian, a quarter British and a quarter Irish). After meeting my husband in 1994, we got married in 1998. That same year, my mom came to live with us from the Philippines. Then, we moved to Saskatoon in April of 2010, and we planned to stay for a while. I am indeed grateful to my Canadian family that I love, and I thank Canada for being my second home.
Claudia:Coming to Saskatoon SK, Canada was a bit of a cultural shock for me. I grew up in Guatemala City and lived in the USA for six years prior to coming here. I was so used to the loud and fast rhythm of life, so the prairies were a little too slow for me. I remember asking my dad where you could find more people like me? One thing that my heart will never forget is the KINDNESS of the prairie people. I wasn’t used to people saying hello in the streets or bringing fresh vegetables to my doorstep. I felt so welcomed in my second home, my dad said to me, “You will be growing with this city” and he was so right about that.
I have been here for almost 29 years in the prairies, and its people is something I wouldn’t change for anything. As everything in life, there’s always a bad apple in the basket. I had to meet people that thought immigrants were getting everything handed to them and let me tell you that’s not right. I raised my two kids as a hard-working single parent, and I take lots of pride in that. I've had the privilege to have so many wonderful humans around me, who helped my journey of life become smoother. I love Saskatchewan, Canada, and I'm so happy to call this place my HOME. I believe that no matter your skin colour, accent or appearance, we’ll always encounter people that are not as accepting of different cultures than others. I’m so thankful and honoured to work with a union like SEIU-WEST, who cares enough to educate others to have respect and dignity for everyone who comes and calls Canada our second home.