Our transition from the Philippines to Canada took place when I was 14 years old. My siblings, my parents, and I all had a great life back home: we were happy. Having lived there my whole life, I was fully immersed in the culture, traditions, and life the Philippines had to offer. I especially enjoyed the company of my relatives and friends; we often went on adventures together. Coming here was more than a challenge; I often still find myself missing home.
When it comes to the transition to Canada, the most prominent feeling was stress at the prolonged and strenuous process. My mother had applied to be a working-status immigrant, and not only was it a gruelling and long application, but one filled with uncertainty as well. I remember seeing my father file countless forms and papers in preparation. My uncle was the first among us to immigrate to Canada, and encouraged our family to make the transition as well. Economic opportunities were at an all-time high in Canada; as such, my family, including other relatives, were able to get jobs and work to build better lives. We all hoped for a better future: that was our main goal.
There were many things to adjust to upon arriving in a wholly different country. Most importantly, the support system that I created and relied upon for most of my life was essentially gone as we started anew. Of course, cultural barriers were also a large adjustment: in particular, the difference in mindsets between me and my new peers in Canada. We had distinct values, which at times conflicted with each other. Although as time passed, I was soon able to find like-minded friends who melded well with me and my values. However, my family also experienced a vile racist attack: showing that Canada still has a long road towards complete tolerance despite its reputation as being unfailingly “nice.” The experience left us all shocked and frightened; most of our encounters since our immigration had been nothing short of kind and welcoming, so it was a disheartening wake-up call to realize that there is still so much prejudice and hate in the world. We have since come to make our peace with the occurrence, but it has left us with a persistent and subconscious fear.
Eight years have passed since our first day in Canada, and we have slowly adapted; I have come to see Canada as home. There are still challenges of course, especially as working-class immigrants with barriers of social mobility. Regardless, we have taken well to life here. The help of our family, friends, and neighbours were especially important in helping us adjust. We found comfort in strangers’ kindness: it was a new support system which allowed us to more fully appreciate our new life. I am able to keep in touch with my close friends and relatives from the Philippines, and while it is not the same as seeing them in person, it is comforting to know that they are well and persisting with the next chapter of their own stories as I continue my own. Of course, there was and continues to be a sadness that we are apart and cannot be there with each other for important stages of life, but their unconditional love and support still provide me with the strength and confidence I rely upon to continue with my own adventures.
Please note that certain facts have been altered for anonymity
This story is a collaborative effort between Noor Abubakar and Analyn Salvador