Fall has always felt exciting to me. Changing seasons from long hot evenings to chilly dewy mornings. Changing routines from lazy sleep-ins to early alarm clocks. Changing menus from grill to soup pot. Changing wardrobes from shorts and flip flops to sweaters and boots.
Whether we enjoy change, or not, it is something we all experience from time to time. Sometimes this change comes in the form of moving – whether to a new neighbourhood, city, or country, this can be one of the most difficult changes of all.
CBAL’s settlement workers meet many people who are adjusting to life in the Kootenay – Boundary region and one of those people chose to share their story with us. Here it is.
I moved to Canada from India in 2019 with my two children. At first, we stayed in Surrey for 10 days with my family and then moved to Grand Forks. My husband arrived a year earlier, in 2018, and we moved to join him.
It was a very weird time; the roads and trees were covered in snow, and I felt very depressed because I had never seen so much snow before. But I was excited to see a new place, meet new people and my husband told me how good Grand Forks was, especially in the summertime. Finally, we were together.
In the beginning, it was very difficult to find a job, get information about studying and so many other things. I was experiencing culture shock and felt that my English was not very good. Nobody knew us, and we didn’t know anybody. Even though my husband lived here for a year before us, he didn’t go out for anything except groceries – he didn’t know anything about Grand Forks. We decided to go out with the kids and start exploring things.
In those early days, everything was so boring because we used to live in a very big and busy city in India. All of a sudden, everything changed. After 4 pm everything was closed! The first week of December, we went to the library and asked them what was exciting in Grand Forks, or nearby. The librarian suggested that we go to the art gallery and see if they had pamphlets for coming events. We went there and got a guide map for sites around Grand Forks. On our way out, I saw a CBAL card on the noticeboard for immigrant settlement. I grabbed one and kept it for a week before I called because I was so scared to talk to anyone. One day, I called that number and spoke to Shayna Jepsen (the best person in my life). Our enjoyable days started after that. She helped me to do a lot of things in Grand Forks. Shayna gave me a lot of support to meet new people from different countries and now I have a very good friend circle.
I’m now moving back to Surrey and it is very hard for me to leave Grand Forks, but I feel happy that I am taking many good memories from here.
It only takes one person to change someone’s experience in a new place. Could that be you? As our communities begin to welcome so many more newcomers to Canada, it might be the perfect time for you to reach out to someone new. Start a conversation, connect with your local CBAL office to ask about volunteering, or simply begin by offering a warm smile. A colleague of mine describes welcoming communities as providing a “community hug” to newcomers. Have a look at your neighbourhood, your workplace, your social networks – how could they be more welcoming and inclusive?
For more information about CBAL Settlement Services, visit https://cbal.org/settlement-services/
Settlement Services Coordinator