By Bamidele Salako
I should mention that this aren’t addressed to individuals who intend to migrate with tourist visas and plan to overstay their welcome. Of course, people do this. But I would never advise nor support this.
The series is targeted at people looking to immigrate legally to Canada through work visas, or as Permanent Residents, or via any of the other legally approved and recognized Canadian immigration streams.
In the first part of the series, we explored the crucial question of “why” regarding moving to Canada. And I hope all the readers planning to immigrate to America’s Hat (Canada’s so nicknamed because it sits geographically atop the US, like a hat) have been able to answer that pertinent question of why.
As mentioned in Part 1, your “why,” depending on how compelling it is, may just be the difference between you having a frustrating life in Canada or a fulfilling one! It will shape your responses and reactions to the many curve-balls that Canada may throw at you. Without a doubt, it will be the fuel that keeps the engine of your commitment to succeed in Canada running.
Some comments in the last article showed that a few of the readers assumed that my intention in starting this series was to dissuade people from moving to Canada. Nothing could be further from the truth. My intention, even though clearly stated, was yet misconstrued.
I am, after all, writing from Canada and I do not have a jot of regret moving here. I do miss people back home. And believe it or not, there are things about Nigeria that I miss dearly, but regrets? None! So, I wonder why anyone would think I am out to deter them from coming? I do not write from a place of frustration or envy. I am writing from a place of genuine love and concern.
Because I see a lot of people who, excitedly (even if naively), think that every street in Canada is paved with gold and lined with a glut of career golden fleeces and that all you need do is register your presence here and voila! career opportunities will start to rain from the skies in torrents making all your problems disappear in a magical instant while planting your feet firmly in El Dorado.
The reality though, is that this is often not the case for many – at least not immediately. There’s a combination of factors that determines the outcomes that people experience after they land in Canada – factors we will explore in the fourth part of this series titled – 7 Mistakes People make after Moving to Canada.
To my target audience, remember that if you’re planning to move to Canada, you will be moving as an economic migrant and not as a refugee. And there are certain valid expectations you will be coming with to Canada as a migrant professional. Imagine the humiliation, when you find out upon coming here that you may initially have to do work that is typically reserved for low-skilled refugees or foreign workers who do not even possess a high school diploma.
For many who fall into the economic class of immigrants, your primary goal for moving to Canada is to find better, or at the very least, comparable economic opportunities (to what you currently have in Nigeria) that will guarantee a better future and quality of life for you and your family in a country that you have obviously judged as being better than yours on several counts.
Such a life decision that affects one’s future, and in many instances, the futures of one’s family members, should not be made on a whim or based on fairy tales and presumptuous expectations.
It should be a calculated and well-planned move that involves a careful weighing of the pros and cons of moving to Canada, the opportunity cost, your age and risk tolerance, your family size, your financial circumstances, the level of sacrifice that may/will be required of you, the compromises you’re willing to take on the standard of life you currently enjoy in your home country, etc.
When making a move like this, many get so emotional, and only look at the benefits without weighing the cost (not just monetary – psychological, physical, professional, etc.). And then, when they arrive in Canada and receive a rude awakening through the demands that the country places on them by virtue of its unique systems, structures, and peculiarities, they become frustrated, and take to social media to vent and condemn relocation altogether – thus doing a great disservice to others who have a realistic shot at success abroad!
So, you need to sort out the why and evaluate the cost of relocating – whether to Canada or elsewhere – which is never easy. Once you’ve conducted this assessment and decided that the benefits of moving to Canada considerably outweigh the benefits of staying back in Nigeria and that the move is also worth whatever price you may need to pay to successfully resettle in Canada, then you must brace up and be willing to face up to the consequences of your choice.
Let’s look at some of the reasons that people I know, some of whom will be reading this, shared with me for making the move.
On this Canadian immigration journey, I have met many highly placed Nigerian professionals from different professional backgrounds whose primary purpose for relocating to Canada was their kids. Their children were their singular motivation for risking it all and leaving relatively comfortable careers in Nigeria to move here.
For them, the quality of education that their kids were receiving in private schools in Nigeria no longer justified the ever rising and enormous cost they were incurring. And in spite of the huge outlays on their kids’ education, they had no surefire assurances of said kids’ future competitiveness in the increasingly globalized and highly competitive marketplace.
In their estimation, the quality of public elementary and secondary education in Canada, which is largely free, trumps what you pay top buck for in Nigerian private schools that are affordable to the Middle Class. Meanwhile, they consider premium Nigerian private schools that offer a comparable quality of education to Western schools to be out of reach from a financial standpoint.
I met two Nigerian medical consultants in late 2017 who fa this category. They were working with two of the biggest private medical practices in Nigeria at the time, and they upped and left, giving up decades of medical training and experience to move to Canada where they would inevitably face a tedious licensing process before they would ever be able to practice again. The primary reason – the future of their kids. No one can truly fault them for their choice. They were wearing the metaphorical shoe, so, only they knew where it hurt.
Recently, I interacted with a Nigerian man who is currently a Director at one of Africa’s biggest banks and is also moving his family to Canada. The final spark that ignited his passion to relocate was the abduction of an aged parent in Nigeria, for whom he had to part with a substantial sum to recover. Of course, this didn’t make the news, but a ransom was paid, and the kidnappers were never apprehended.
It was at that point that he decided upon moving to Canada. For him, his security and that of his family was at stake. His strategy was to move his wife and kids to Canada while he would remain in Nigeria for a while. He would visit them as frequently as possible until his wife becomes settled in a good job in Canada, and then, he could safely withdraw – if nothing significant happens to keep him in Nigeria – from his directorial duties at the bank to join them fully.
Now, this strategy of transitioning gradually is another approach that some people deploy to good effect – from the experience of a couple of families that I know personally who could afford to do this.
The partner with the better job returns to work in Nigeria or elsewhere and continues to fund his/her family’s expenses abroad pending the time that the spouse in Canada secures meaningful employment.
Obviously, the job in Nigeria or elsewhere must be a well-paid one – in the light of dual living expenses and fluctuating exchange rates. Then, of course, there’s the emotional toll of being separated from family for long periods and the potential marital challenges that could attend that state of affairs. There’s the risk of frequent travels. There’s also the risk of couples growing apart.
For some individuals, the fear of losing all they’ve worked all their lives for to some sudden, debilitating illness was enough motivation to up and go! Some said they had lost loved ones to Nigeria’s unreliable healthcare system in emergency situations and had thought to themselves that even though they possessed the financial resources to afford decent private health services in Nigeria, their chances of survival would be slim to none if they were ever to find themselves in an emergency health crisis demanding urgent care. And so, they left for Canada where healthcare is free and qualitative. (We will talk more about healthcare in Canada later)
Others just wanted options. The allure of a Canadian citizenship (which, through the permanent residency route, you can secure in just three unbroken years of being physically present in Canada) as well as its attendant privileges, was too tempting to pass up. The freedom to be able to choose between countries, and of course, the immense benefits that they and their kids could enjoy from being citizens of a First World country provided the needed incentive for a move. The Henley Passport Index, based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA), ranks Canada’s passport in its latest ratings, as the joint 9th most powerful passport in the world, granting its bearers visa-free, visa-on-arrival or ETA access to all of 183 countries including the USA, UK, Australia, etc.
A single guy who had a great job with Access Bank in Lagos, Nigeria, just wanted to get away from all the craziness of life in Lagos. I will be interviewing him for this series. His identity will be disclosed then. He’s now doing well working with one of the biggest banks here in Canada. It took him upwards of four or more months to find his desired job.
At a point, he had started working towards getting a security certification that would permit him to work as a security guard at night so he could meet his basic needs while also applying for jobs and attending job interviews during the day. It was in the process of working towards the security certification that he secured his first banking job.
Now, you alone know your motivation for wanting to come to Canada. And no one has the right to judge you for it. The essence of this series is to help you count the cost, weigh the opportunities against the risks, and make objective decisions that you won’t regret making even if the going were to get tough – if you opted to move. The series will also help you to mentally prepare for the challenges that newcomers typically face with settling and finding employment after they land in Canada.
We will be really getting into it in the next couple of posts. They will be exciting, and you should expect to learn a lot from the experience of Nigerians from different professional backgrounds who currently live in Canada. I will be touching on my own relocation story as we go. We will also be speaking with professionals from other countries who have moved here, the challenges they faced, and the tips they have to share with those who are set to move to Canada. I will be interviewing these people in the days ahead. In the next post, we will be looking at, “7 Categories of People who shouldn’t move to Canada.”
In the following articles, we will be discussing topics like:
Seven Mistakes that People make after moving to Canada (Choice of a destination city, going to school, taking a mortgage, etc.)
The Privileges of Living in Canada
Settlement Resources Available to Professionals moving to Canada
Salary Expectations for Different Professions weighed against Cost of Living
Now, to my gift!
Sorry, if you were expecting a cash gift hehe.
This gift will prove to be tremendously valuable to you, especially if you’ve commenced the Canadian immigration process. It’s a four-part video (about 20 minutes each) of an insightful presentation by Lionel Laroche who, over the years, has become an in-demand speaker at immigrant-focused conferences organized by the government, private corporations and non-profits here in Canada.
He was an immigrant professional (now a Canadian citizen) who moved to Canada from France a couple of decades ago. And like many who long to come to Canada today, he came with his head in the clouds – with many lofty expectations but a limited understanding of the system – only to hit a brick wall upon arrival. He would later turn things around for himself and become an acclaimed success in Canada. He has now so graciously put together the lessons he gleaned from the challenges he faced as a newcomer, as well as the strategies that helped him to overcome those challenges, into a series of presentations, which he delivers at different professional fora to help newcomers avoid certain needless obstacles, and better approach the inevitable challenges that lie in their path to Canadian success.
It’s not a recent video, but anyone currently living and working in Canada will attest to the currency and relevancy of the thoughts and insights shared, which are just as useful today as they were when the video was first recorded.
(Bamidele Salako is Intake Counsellor – Settlement Online Pre-Arrival, SOPA, at Calgary Catholic Immigration Society)