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