Article by Jim Tallman for New Canadian
Jim Tallman outgoing president of the Immigrant Service Society of Brtish Columbia Board of Directors received the 2019 AMSSA Service Recognition Volunteer Award
Are you waiting to come to Canada? Or are you already here and looking for a job, or trying to learn more about how Canadian society works? Whichever of these situations you find yourself in, here are some tips that can make settling in Canada easier.
Tip 1: Watch Canadian Television (a lot)
Whether you are still waiting or are already in Canada, watch Canadian national and local newscasts on TV or on the internet. It’s one of the best ways to start learning the culture and get familiar with the issues of importance to Canadians.
It also helps you get used to the Canadian accent and the speed of talking. You will be exposed to Canadian expressions. You can also record news stories and play them over and over to improve your pronunciation.
Here are some channels to get you started:
Tip 2: Use the Government of Canada website
Specifically, go to this page:
There you will find links for getting you credentials assessed, what you can bring to Canada, immigrant services agencies that will help you with English or French, finding work and other useful things you may benefit from, and how to protect yourself from fraud.
Tip 3: Think about where you would like to live
Most people wanting to move to Canada focus on the three major cities: Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. While they may offer job possibilities, they are also expensive and the competition for jobs is fierce. Smaller cities and towns also have services and jobs, and usually lower costs of living. A house in Vancouver that may sell for 1.5 million dollars, if located in a smaller community, might sell for only $300,000.
Look up real estate and rental websites for the big cities and smaller cities and you’ll quickly see the reality of these numbers. Do a lot of Google-map walking and read about the neighbourhoods. Look at school district websites, as well as the websites for towns and cities.
Tip 4. Learn the Canadian way of doing things
Life will be much smoother for you in Canada if you learn the ways Canadians behave among themselves. When you are in Canada, observe how Canadians interact with one another. For example, observe when and how much they use eye contact; note the personal space between two speakers. Watch that you don’t speak too loudly or too softly. Show respect for women and the gay community, and recognize that now as a member of Canada’s multicultural society, it’s important and expected that you are accepting of people from all over the world who have chosen to live in Canada.
Don’t hide in your cultural group—if you do, you will never feel part of Canadian society. The most successful newcomers go out into the world, make mistakes but keep on trying.
Working as a volunteer is very common and expected among Canadians. In addition to contributing to your local community, you can make important contacts to help in your job search and social life. You can usually find volunteer opportunities listed at local libraries and community centres.
Tip 5: Finding a job in Canada
The reality is that jobs are not easy to find, even for Canadians. There is a lot of competition. Here are some points to help you:
- Settlement agencies can teach you how to write a Canadian resume, how to network, and how to conduct yourself in a job interview. Usually these services are at no cost to you.
- Understand the Canadian workplace. Google “Canadian workplace culture” and you will find many articles with the do’s and don’ts.
- Consider taking a job in an alternative career (so that you don’t starve). Licencing is required for many professions and can take several years to get, and in the meantime you have to live, so don’t go broke. An engineer could work as a project manager, for example, or an estimator.
- Jobs are often easier to get if you go north because people used to living in the big cities in the south are often reluctant to leave the city and thus the competition in northern towns can be less for trained and qualified people.
Tip 6: Maintain a positive attitude
This is perhaps the most important tip of all. The first couple of years can be hard adjusting and finding steady employment. Build new networks, find ways to meet Canadians and strive to become Canadian in your attitudes and actions, and people will respond.