Coming to Canada: Starting New Roots in Vancouver

One of the greatest gifts of all was being accepted into their adoptive country.

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Park in North Vancouver
Photo: Alexis de Freitas

From South Africa to North Vancouver

I recall the day as if it were yesterday. At 3 p.m. on April 12, 2000, my then husband, our five children ranging in age from ten to 18, and I landed on the beautiful shores of British Columbia.

Due to unfortunate circumstances in our birth country of South Africa, we searched for an adoptive country where we could put down new roots. I am so happy that Canada was kind enough to accept us.

Ever since our arrival, I have felt nothing but warmth and an amazing sense of being “home.”

We landed in Vancouver and moved to a rental property in North Vancouver. Coming in cold, never having set foot on the North American continent, it was the softest landing anyone could hope for, especially when you have five children in tow.

Speaking for myself, I have never felt more at home. Finding work has always been easy for me. I started off doing temp work to get used to the currency and the way Canadians operated. Not loo long afterwards, I was offered full-time posts.

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View from Grouse Mountain
Photo: Alexis de Freitas

Today, I am employed as a school administrator and am extremely happy in my job. I am very fortunate to be able to walk or cycle to work.

Living in British Columbia has allowed me to utilize the four seasons to their fullest. I cycle in spring, summer and autumn, and in winter I go snowshoeing. I live very close to Grouse Mountain, so I take full advantage of it. I hike the Grouse Grind on the odd occasion in spring or summer and swim throughout the year, enjoying a swim every morning before work.

I feel fully blessed to be able to call Canada my home. Now that my children are all adults and have moved on with their own lives, I still feel very comfortable and extremely safe. I have no problem as a now-single lady going anywhere at any time on my own.

Thank you, Canada, for accepting me—I am very proud to call myself a citizen. As a family, we were all given a second chance at a new life and, believe me, it is the best gift anyone could be given.

Originally Published in Our Canada

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