A new life and the reality of adjusting


In a recent conversation, a new Canadian from Korea, a mother of two teen daughters, admitted that she has changed since coming to Canada. She said she worries more.

Making a new life in Canada will definitely change any individual. There are all kinds of matters to adjust to. For one, people here have an accent. Equally confounding, the locals seem to think new Canadians have accents – and there are so many.

In times to come, the influx of many different languages and accents into Canada, Toronto especially, will certainly influence the way English is spoken here.

What is already fascinating is what a Canadian today looks like. Take a stroll through the downtown area on any Sunday, and you will be met with a remarkable array of blended cultures comprising many of today’s Toronto families. The many new cultures here are producing these new cultural blends that altogether still spell Canadian.

At times, it feels like Canada, in this respect, is now moving into an era that in days gone by marked the blending of the peoples that now make up the Caribbean population. There, mainly of African descent, but with all kinds of ancestors to refer to.

Many people come here with great hope for a better quality of life for themselves and especially for their children, if they are parents. They come also because the Canadian government is doing a marvelous job of selling this country to people with dreams of a better life.

But they get here and find that the adjustment is not so smooth. In fact, there are surveys which indicate that some immigrants now here think that it’s not such a good idea for others to come. Old stock Canadians like to refer to these kinds of responses since a good number of them resent the change that comes with all these new cultures sharing the space.

New Canadians fear for those emigrating because those already here know it can be difficult, if not impossible, to pick up where they left off back home in their careers. Conversely, among some old stock Canadians there is the belief that immigrants are a burden on the tax system – somehow overlooking the fact that many immigrants to this country are themselves job creators.

For the most part, the people being allowed into Canada by Canadian Immigration and Citizenship are highly educated and very qualified people, with marketable skills. (To enter Canada as an immigrant, one must meet a very high standard of education among other qualifications.) But to hear one Jamaican who has been struggling here for about a decade tell it, it’s best to tell friends back home who are being enchanted by those commercials that Canada airs in such places that, should they plan to come to Canada, they should bypass Toronto for now and go instead to places like Winnipeg or Regina. In other words, ‘Go west, young man/woman’.

One of the reasons the Korean mother, who is university educated, worries is she is not employed. Of course, she has her hands full taking care of her family, but as a well-educated woman who had a career in Korea, she wants to get back into the working world. Another worry is the language barrier.

One advantage that people coming from the Caribbean have is that they already speak English or French. Even so, that does not mean there will not be barriers to employment for English- and French-speaking Caribbean immigrants. There is that colour issue that is a sticking point for many who, though they might anticipate some racism, may not realize how much of a hold that social disease has in this part of the world. Remarkably, people are often surprised about that.

But it is not all gloom and doom. Hard work will provide results. Although, to integrate well, hard work might not always be enough.

This country encourages multiculturalism, so the freedom to maintain your culture is yours if you choose it. Yet, if you cloister yourself in your cultural community, you can find yourself living almost entirely – weather notwithstanding – as if you were still in your home country.

A note on believing what is oft repeated…

Now that we have had it drilled into us that times are tough economically, a recent poll found that only about one in four is optimistic about this year’s prospects. The same repetitive assertion of information and ideas – remember stopping the gravy train? – got Toronto the mayor it now has.

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