In celebration of International Migrants day on December 18th, Our SEIU-West Multicultural Mentorship Committee is sharing their stories of what it was like when they first came to Canada.
Jeanne is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and the Chair of the Multicultural Mentorship Committee.
Here is Jeanne's story:
When I came here to Saskatoon, it was June 14, 1997, so weather wise, it was still ok.
I was so culture shocked socially, because I came from a place where we do not talk to strangers; that was instilled to us since the day we learned how to socialize. On the other hand, coming here, a total stranger will greet you good morning or good afternoon and will ask, “How's your day?” it was totally a different experience, especially to a person like me who rarely got out and socialized. I was so used to being alone and walking in silence and waiting for transportation quietly. Here, strangers start a casual conversation. At first, I was tongue tied all the time. To add to my misery back then, I was so conscious of my spoken English. I was so scared to answer the phone that I would stare without answering it. Took me months to actually get used to the warmth of how accommodating and friendly Canadians are.
Weather shock came after a few months, I didn't want to get out of the house because of the cold weather. 😫
Then when it comes to validity of my education, I was so miserable that my degree wasn't accepted here in Canada. I'm so fortunate that I had the motivation to work my way to where I am now.
I know coming here in Canada, at first, it was very overwhelming and challenging. As the days turned to months and months into years, I learned how to adapt and how to actually survive winter and the new culture without losing my own culture. I always remind myself that even though I'm so conscious of my spoken English, it is my strength that I'm bilingual. And our culture is not a weakness, it is my strength.