In celebration of International Migrants day on December 18th, Our SEIU-West Multicultural Mentorship Committee (MMC) is sharing their stories of what it was like when they first came to Canada.
Felix is a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) in a rural long term health facility and is a member of the MMC.
Here is Felix's story:
It was February of 2016 that I landed at the Vancouver airport. I was very excited about being in Canada and a little bit worried about being alone.
It was a great relief for me when I finally stepped outside the airport's clean environment to discover that the air I inhaled was fresh and significantly different. A friend picked me up after being cleared by immigration.
The next day, I went to Kwantlen University Polytechnic to check my course registration and familiarize myself on campus. The academic advisor advised me to apply for my health card and Social Insurance Number. I enjoyed the warm Canadian hospitality and did not feel out of place at all. A colleague of mine and I boarded a sky train to Vancouver downtown, and it was breathtaking seeing high-rise buildings surrounded by nature (mountains, lush forests, rugged coastline). I quickly made a video call and spoke to my family back home, and I vividly remember telling my family "Canada is much more beautiful than it is on TV".
While in British Columbia in 2018, a friend recommended to me that I take a Continuing Care Assistant(CCA) program at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. So I applied and came to Saskatchewan Polytechnic the following year. I landed at Saskatchewan Diefenbaker airport on January third, 2019. The officials at the airport were very professional and helpful, so I was cleared at the immigration very quickly. Even though I had seen snow before, I was overwhelmed. I had not seen heavy snowfall falling like that, just like in the fairytale movies. There was an intense snow squall, and I could hardly breathe. I was bundled up with a two thick jackets. Still, I was chilled to the bone. It was a cultural shock for me to see about seven feet of snow and the Saskatchewan River frozen to ice. I was a little bit starved from eating fast food the whole day.
I count myself lucky for being in Canada, a peaceful country. I have access to potable water and vaccinations. This is something that some Canadians take for granted. Chasing my dreams comes along with a lot of challenges but I try to keep my chin up so that I can give my family and African child the life I never had.