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Fresh Snow and Young Love: Isabela's Story

My decision to immigrate from Argentina to Canada was not a culmination of reasons to leave, but instead, one strong reason to come: I fell in love.

For years before I met Peter, I worked as a contract lawyer and had no plans to immigrate from the beautiful country I grew up in and called home. Close with my friends and family, a dog I loved beyond measure, and a job that I enjoyed and excelled at, I couldn’t imagine a happier life.

On a uniquely special day at work, the Canadian delegation came to visit and I met a civil engineer who would change the trajectory of my life. Peter and I soon fell in love and thanks to the wonders of the internet, we were able to stay in touch long after he returned home (racking up huge international phone bills in the process). For a long time, we deliberated about what to do about the thousands of kilometres that lay between us; we eventually decided that I would be the one to relocate in order to be together. It was not a decision taken lightly, but it was the right one. Though sad to move away from my friends, family, and the life I built, I feel that I never really left them behind; I carry them with me everywhere I go and keep close contact with my loved ones.

After obtaining my travel visa, I first stepped foot in Canada in December of 1995; I viscerally remember the experience as one characterized by a 61°C drop in temperature with an insufficient jacket. Weather aside, I adjusted well to my new life in Canada. I believe that Canada isn’t really so different from Argentina: humans are beautiful everywhere. Both countries are guided by similar principles of justice, morality, and integrity, the only difference being the extent to which those freedoms are protected; in Canada, freedoms really mean freedoms.

Peter and I took our vows in 1996, promising never to be apart. As my sponsor, husband, and primary form-filler, Peter helped with my citizenship application. My appeal was based on humanitarian grounds, having married a Canadian. It was quickly approved and we lived in Calgary together where I looked to start my new life.

Where Argentina is based on Roman Law, Canada adopts the Common Law system; I initially hoped to continue my career here by getting a masters degree in law at the University of Calgary. I received a full-ride scholarship and had nearly completed my degree when I discovered that I was pregnant with my twins. In Argentina, childcare is primarily achieved with help from family. But with no family other than Peter within 10,000km, I decided I would stay home to look after my children: a decision I have never regretted.

I have now lived in Calgary for more than 26 years, and I feel right at home. Canada has definitely lived up to my expectations; it was all I hoped and more. Upon reflection, my only piece of advice to my younger self would be to dress more warmly when arriving in Canada. I still live in Calgary with my husband, three children, and a little dog who likes to cause mayhem.

Please note that certain facts have been altered for anonymity

This story is a collaborative effort between Skye Baxter and Isabela van Ravenhorst

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