GUEST FEATURE: AK’S THOUGHTS ON SETTLING IN CANADA
I have my third guest feature with the woman behind the black immigrant girl blog. To catch up on previous guest features, click here. She is one of the many people who inspired me to start my blog. She shares her journey and thoughts so far in settling into Canada.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
My name is Akata Salowo. I am proudly Nigerian ? and was born in Nigeria. Until 10 months ago, I lived in Lagos. I left all that behind and moved to Mississauga, Ontario in Canada. I blog on www.blackmigrantgirl.com an amazingly hilarious blog where you can read about all my escapades since moving to Ontario. I also tweet my day to day impressions @blackmigrantgrl on Twitter and @blackmigrantgirl on Instagram.
YOU QUIT YOUR AMAZING JOB IN NIGERIA AND CHOSE TO MIGRATE CANADA, WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO DO THAT? WEREN’T YOU WORRIED ABOUT FINDING A JOB WHEN YOU GET TO CANADA?
It was an incredibly tough decision to leave but I had to do it. I was severely burnt out with living in Lagos. I was angry and bone-tired. Two years prior, I’d moved to Port Harcourt to live and work and though it was a slower pace compared to Lagos, my heart broke at the lack of opportunities in places like Rivers state and across the Niger Delta where my father is from. It was an incredible state of helplessness that I decided I had to save myself first, to keep my sanity. Leaving Nigeria was making a case for my emotional and mental health. I absolutely love Lagos and Nigeria and I miss home like crazy but relocating presented the opportunity to be more. Yes, I was worried about many things when I first relocated to Canada- finding a job, settling in, building a network, leaving my boyfriend in Lagos, my parents and my entire life. However, people have told me throughout my life about how brave I am, so I said I was going to prove them right with this decision ?. So far, so good. When you live in a more organized society like Canada, acclimatizing is far easier than you think.
WHAT WAS THE PERMANENT RESIDENCY APPLICATION PROCESS LIKE?
This part of the story is long ooooh ☹, and no two people’s experiences going through the PR process are the same. Could I just direct people to the Canada immigration website please?
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WISH YOU KNEW DURING YOUR PR PROCESS THAT NO ONE TOLD YOU?
Nothing! ? I know that sounds funny, but it is the truth. I had started thinking about moving to Canada about 2 years before I finally made the move. During that time, I reached out to everyone I remotely knew of in Canada to ask for their advice and counsel; I researched the process from start to finish; I had access to a WhatsApp group where daily information was shared about the PR process, and I attended the IOM info session for new Permanent Residents in Canada, so I was well equipped to make the move. There were surprises when I arrived, but it wasn’t anything insurmountable.
IS THERE ANY WEBSITES OR SOURCES YOU THINK WILL BE USEFUL FOR PEOPLE SEEKING TO MIGRATE TO CANADA?
There are lots. I mentioned one already in my previous answer and now I’m too lazy to type out any others. Literally, type in PR to Canada in Google and watch videos and read blogs of people who have successfully settled here. Also read my blog ? and leave a comment. The relocation/PR process is a ‘marathon’, so you need to make sure you do your own research. Don’t just rely 100% on any one source of information so you are not surprised when you arrive here. I’ve heard of stories of people who moved to a Province in Canada because someone promised to take care of them, and on arrival, they were disappointed. It’s important to have your vex money so that if anything goes wrong, you are prepared. Stay optimistic and everything will work out eventually.
DO YOU THINK YOU ARE BETTER OFF COMPARED TO WHEN YOU WERE IN NIGERIA? DO YOU THINK MIGRATING WAS WORTH IT?
Knowing whether I am better off is too soon to call as I’ve been here less than a year. However, there are incredible opportunities here if you know what they are, and you fully maximize it, so yes, migrating has been worth it thus far. And if it no longer is worth it, I hope I have the courage to transplant myself somewhere else.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SETTLE IN THE CURRENT CITY YOU ARE LIVING?
Toronto just seemed larger than life when I was going to land in Canada. It also has a strong black community- like you walk on the streets and run into people that look like you. That was critical for me arriving from Nigeria. Also, a friend from Nigeria was able to connect me with a Nigerian couple here who took care of me for the 1st 7 weeks of my arrival here. I moved out of their house and decided to remain in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). However, if I get an amazing offer in Vancouver, I’ll say my goodbyes to Toronto because Canada has opportunities everywhere.
WHAT ARE THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF MIGRATING THAT YOU NEVER EXPECTED?
Far too many. Can I be lazy again and say, ‘please go read my blog to find out’? ?
Some of the famous ones are culture shock (on various levels), the weather, the exchange rate from Naira to the Canadian dollar, starting fresh, not having a network you can trust and rely upon, finding a house, settling in either as a single or married person. There are tons of issues- tons. Canada or anywhere else for that matter is no Eldorado. Please don’t believe the hype 100% and come here expecting to pick money off the streets. Everyone works their butts off here. There are homeless and poor people here too. Far more than I even thought.
HOW EASY WAS IT TO SECURE A FULL-TIME JOB?
It is relatively easy if you are in open and flexible to positions across Canada. There is a lot of information online about securing a job. Start there and work on your Canadian style resume, then learn how to network for the job you want. Consider going back to school or enrolling in a bridging program to help you get quickly settle in job wise. Also think of starting a business. It requires a lot of work, but that’s another route us black folks do not explore here. We just want to come, and work for others. Think about it- you left all that you know to come to this place of uncertainty, isn’t this an opportunity to begin with a fresh slate and chase those dreams of entrepreneurship that you had? We need more black people owning businesses and employing people and serving communities beyond the black communities. Think of how to scale your business to service a wider range of customers.
ANY SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT MIGRATING?
There are many. Many! Some days I wake up terrified, wondering if I made the right decision. Then, I recall spending 4 hours on Third Mainland bridge trying to get home in rush hour traffic, and fearing being mugged as a lone, female driver in my car; and I nod my head and say, yes, it was all for the best, and it will all make sense in the long run.