Com­ing to Canada

De­spite some ini­tial reser­va­tions, im­mi­grat­ing to Canada has been well worth it

More of Our Canada - - Contents - By Tayyabah Ahmed, Toronto

Be­fore I left the United King­dom, I had ap­pre­hen­sions about com­ing to Canada. Things were go­ing well for me in Lon­don and giv­ing up the sta­bil­ity of all that I had known and worked hard for made me feel queasy. From a very early age, how­ever, I’d al­ways had this nag­ging feel­ing that I wanted to try some­thing dif­fer­ent or, more specif­i­cally, live some­place dif­fer­ent. I’ve al­ways en­joyed trav­el­ling and, cou­pled with the fact that I was in a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship, my part­ner Ricky and I knew that we needed a new ad­ven­ture out­side of the Bri­tish Isles. Peo­ple of­ten ask us, “Why Canada?” and I can­not give them a spe­cific an­swer. Think­ing about it now, I sup­pose that I would never have to deal with the is­sue of re­mov­ing a hunts­man spi­der from the bath­tub like I would if I had moved to, say, Aus­tralia. Al­though one could ar­gue that I might en­counter a bear rum­mag­ing through my dust­bins one night here in Canada. In all se­ri­ous­ness, I posted this same ques­tion to a lady at an im­mi­gra­tion fair that I at­tended in Lon­don, and she replied, “The sky is al­ways

bluer in Canada.”

I didn’t be­lieve her un­til I stepped out of Toronto Pear­son In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Jan­uary 4, 2017. That af­ter­noon it was -13°C, with a “feels-like” tem­per­a­ture of -19°C, yet ob­serv­ing the bril­liant blue sky alone would never have in­di­cated that. I ar­rived on my own that day, hav­ing to leave the U.K. be­fore Ricky, as I had ac­cepted a po­si­tion of em­ploy­ment that re­quired me to en­ter the coun­try ear­lier than I had an­tic­i­pated. I'm not go­ing to lie to you, the flight over here was a par­tic­u­larly solemn af­fair for me. I had man­aged to hold my­self to­gether for the weeks lead­ing up to that day, but kiss­ing my seven-month-old nephew on the head while he slept be­fore I left for the air­port set me off. It dawned on me that the next time I would see him, he might not know me. I cried for the first two hours of the jour­ney, con­tem­plat­ing whether or not I had made the right de­ci­sion. What if I lived to re­gret this? I re­minded my­self at times dur­ing the flight that my cir­cum­stances were more com­fort­able than most, in that I spoke one of the na­tional lan­guages of the coun­try, and that I was not leav­ing be­hind blood­shed and war, like some peo­ples’ re­cent pas­sage to Canada. I mean, my own mother’s fam­ily had fled Uganda for Great Bri­tain in 1972, and they had to start over again from ab­so­lutely noth­ing.

My first full day in Canada was both in­trigu­ing and ed­u­ca­tional. Even though there are lots of cul­tural sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Canada and the U.K., there are some small nu­ances that I picked up. I re­call, for ex­am­ple, walk­ing for a long time try­ing to find a bus stop. Fi­nally, a lovely lady showed me that what I had pre­sumed to be a lamp post with a piece of card­board at­tached was in fact what I had been look­ing for all along. I also got funny looks for re­quest­ing to use the “toi­let” and not the “wash­room.” In hind­sight, I sup­pose that ask­ing to use a toi­let is quite crude to a non-brit! I also gasped in horror when my bank of­fered me a cheque­book and then hav­ing to ex­plain to the gen­tle­man open­ing my ac­counts that cheques were vir­tu­ally ob­so­lete in ev­ery Euro­pean coun­try.

We set­tled in Toronto, and I couldn’t be prouder to call this city my home. I love the melt­ing pot of lan­guages and cul­tures, the warmth of the peo­ple, and how I can dis­cover some breath­tak­ing scenery only a short drive away—this, of course, af­ter I plucked up the courage to drive on the other side of the road!

There are lots of things I miss though, such as drink­ing a de­cent cup of tea, watch­ing my favourite TV shows and, most of all, my fam­ily, but my Cana­dian ad­ven­ture has in­deed been worth it so far. This sum­mer we’ll be ex­plor­ing more of this vast coun­try by head­ing west to the Prairies and then on­wards to Van­cou­ver. I can’t be­lieve that ca­noe­ing in the crys­tal wa­ters of Lake Louise will now be­come a re­al­ity! ■

Last July, Tayyabah en­joyed check­ing out the gi­ant rub­ber duck on Toronto’s wa­ter­front as she cel­e­brated her very first Canada Day.

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