MOVING TO CANADA
My journey to Canada wasn’t easy or fast. But after ten years, my dream of moving here came true.
Since I was 11 years old, all I could think about was leaving my hometown in Brazil. I worked hard to get out of there, and I did it multiple times. But when nothing worked quite as I expected. So I dusted myself off and started planning my next steps. Until 2016.
In 2015, after returning home from my fifth attempt, I was discouraged. I had tried to leave for over ten years, and I had enough. I decided to do the best I could, living in the place I swore off for so many years.
Moving to Canada was in my mind for years. At first, I didn’t have enough work experience to qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. And once I did, I didn’t have enough money for the proof of funds.
And that was my situation in 2016. As I started to accept and settle in my new life, my father started talking about me moving to Canada. I wasn’t very hopeful, but I decided to give one last shot.
We figured that coming to Canada as a student was be my best bet to become a permanent resident. I started by taking my English test and translating all my documents. I then applied for college and got accepted for all of them. Since they cost about the same, I decided to take Culinary Management at George Brown College in Toronto.Still, I had no idea how I was going to pay for it. Being an international student, college costs four times more than for Canadians, and I had nowhere close to the amount I needed.
So I took matters into my own hands. To make extra money, I sold desserts and baked goods. I gathered all my savings, sold my car, borrowed money from my family, and got a financial support letter from my parents. With this, I managed to get half of what I needed to pay for tuition. I applied for my student permit in October 2016, and just before Christmas, I got it. So I got my tickets, packed my bags, and on Friday, January 6, 2017, I arrived in Toronto.I had two days to gather my bearings, and two days later, I started culinary school.
I always loved to bake, but my cooking skills were limited. And I had no idea what cooking in a professional kitchen was like. All I could do at that point was to do my best and try to learn as much as I could.
It wasn’t easy. I knew very little, and the learning process involves cuts, burns, and a perpetual smell of onions.
In a few months, I found a job at a restaurant, which allowed me to pay for tuition and build on my culinary knowledge and skills.
I work hard on anything I do, so it was no surprise I excelled at school. But the burning question was: what am I going to do after graduation?
Finding my path
I love to cook. But I never wanted to be a chef or own a business. I was too old to make minimum wage, so I was determined to find a career path that made me happy and allowed me to pay the bills.
Some people know what they want to do from a young age. I never knew. Even as a graphic designer, I often questioned if I was on the right path.
So I enrolled in the Food and Media certificate to learn new skills that could lead to other career paths. I learned about photography, social media, food styling, and recipe development. My expectations were to just explore my options, but these skills changed my life in more ways than I know.
Fighting to stay
Around the same time, I started to get ready for my permanent residency process. The plan was to get my post-graduate work permit, work for a year and apply for the Canadian Experience Class. So in January 2018, I took the IELTS. My score was so good, I had enough points to apply through the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
I still needed to save money for the proof of funds, and I was still paying for school, so I had nothing left. I wanted nothing more at the time than to free my parents of the financial burden, but they agreed on helping me for a few more months so I could save enough to apply for the PR.
Time to work
Shortly after I graduated from college, in 2018, I got my post-graduate work permit, and I found a job as a social media manager in a food company. At the time, I thought I found the perfect fit.
But it was far from perfect. The business owner was set on his ways, so I didn’t have a lot of room to be creative. Soon, I stopped making and photographing recipes because he didn’t like people working from home. After that, I didn’t have much to do, and the commute started to get me (a bus, a streetcar, a subway and a second bus ride twice a day was not fun). The salary I thought was fantastic was barely enough to pay for the bills.
Within a few months, I learned everything I could, but I knew there was nowhere to go, so I started looking for another job.
It turns out, even if you have years of experience and a great portfolio, it’s still not so easy to get a job when you move to another country. I sent resumes for months. I read everything I found about finding employment in Canada. Nothing. I even went to George Brown College’s alumni career advisor, and she told me there was nothing wrong with my resume or portfolio.
I knew that all I needed was an opportunity to show my work. And one day, in an alumni newsletter, I read about Career Edge. They offered paid internships to newcomers at some of the top Canadian companies, and I knew this could be my chance.
I created a profile, but I didn’t find any jobs that caught my eye. At that point, all I thought about was quitting my job. I knew I had enough saved to pay for 2-months rent, and I was doing a lot of freelance work at the time that allowed me to pay my bills. The job was making me so unhappy, I just couldn’t take it anymore.
One Friday afternoon, in March 2019, while I was trying not to cry on the subway ride home, I got a call from Career Edge. They asked if I would like to take a look at an internship at RBC. They sent me the position, and I said yes, but my mind was in a dark place. That weekend, I broke. I told my parents how unhappy I was, and they said they would help me if I couldn’t find a job before I used all my savings.
On Monday, I gave my employer my two-weeks notice. On Tuesday, I got a call to book the interview at RBC. I interviewed the following Tuesday, and on day two of unemployment, I heard that I got the job. Although I had to wait a couple of months before I started, I knew I had the opportunity of a lifetime in my hands.
On my feet
My 6-months internship was extended twice, and it gave me enough leverage to find a permanent role in another team. All this happened just before we went on lockdown, and if that isn’t good enough, this is the best job I’ve ever had in my life.
Here to stay
In August 2018, I applied for my permanent residency in Canada. I didn’t hear back from them until January 2019, when they requested more documents to prove my employment. I submitted the documents to the best of my abilities, and I kept waiting.
All I could do at that point was hope for the best and keep working, in case I needed to go through the process again. I checked if my internship would qualify as employment, and because it was paid and full-time, it did. So I kept waiting.
One day, I got an email with a time and date for an interview to finalize my immigration process. I messaged my friend, who is an immigration consultant and helped me every step of the way. She said this letter was usually a positive sign. On June 15, 2019, I went to the interview, and after confirming my personal information, I became a permanent resident of Canada.
New chapters ahead
Moving to Canada was proof that when things are meant to happen, they happen effortlessly. There were difficult moments, but I just kept fighting. As I write this, I’m struggling with my health and looking back at all that happened in the last four years makes me hopeful. Everything happens at the right time, and this time won’t be any different.