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.

Leta is a Health Records Clerk in an urban hospital and is taking her course to become a Health Information Management Practitioner.

This is Leta's story:

It was March of 1992 when I arrived in Toronto, travelling alone from England. Before coming to Canada, I lived for three years with my Aunts in England, as an international student. Before that, I grew up in the Philippines. I spent those England years travelling a little bit and working part time, but decided eventually to leave for Canada.  

A dear friend helped me to come to Canada, through her employers. I came on a working visa to stay with a family to care for their three kids and a dog. Being away from family for the second time was different. I was now living with people that I was meeting for the first time. To work for them and care for their children was a different experience for me because I got paid for doing it. At home, we help out our families by taking care of nieces and nephews (or other relatives' kids) for free.  

Getting used to how Canadians live was something that I had to learn and adapt to over the years. And all the while, I missed my own family. That closeness within our family and relatives back home was the greatest feeling that I missed when I came to Canada. Though I was living with my employers, every weekend I got to be with friends (fellow Filipinos) to unwind and create that sense of family that I missed from back home.  

The weather here took some getting used to. The cold weather in the winter made me more homesick than anything, especially during the holiday season. That's when that feeling of home sickness strikes your core as you miss your loved ones back home. However, travelling, checking new places, meeting new people, and enjoying new things around me got me excited and curious. I started thinking that I could better endure the feelings of being away from my family, I decided to continue my education to upgrade my skills.  

Canadians are very caring people, and very encouraging. My employers encouraged me to go back to school to upgrade myself, and I was able to finally move on to other employment. The compassion I found with my employers helped me realize that Canadians are very supportive in their own ways, both financially and emotionally. These qualities that they possess made me a better person than I thought I could be. Just as I was beginning to start a new life, getting used to where I lived, worked, and studied, I met my future Canadian husband. We married after a four year courtship, and we've now been happily married for 23 years.

After living here for so many years, I am so grateful for being able to enjoy this country, the culture, the vastness of its land, and the people. I have made so many new friends and made so many positive connections. I have been given so many opportunities from so many people's generous acts of kindness and friendship, but also from my own hard work and determination, I have created a life with my family that I can be proud of and that makes me happy. For that, I will always be grateful for coming to Canada, and for the warm welcome I received once I was here.

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