Hello! My name is Megan Carter. I was born in Canada and grew up in Leeds and Grenville, specifically in Brockville. After I finished my undergraduate degree, I moved to Japan where I lived and worked for over 20 years. Due to a variety of circumstances, I recently returned to Canada to my childhood home with my two boys who are 13 and 16.
One of the main reasons we moved back to Canada was for my children to have the experience of living in Canada, to experience Canadian life, traditions, food, and school. Also, as well as to get to know their Canadian family. The transition back to Canada specifically to this area was a difficult experience in many ways; first we moved back to Canada during the pandemic and as a result faced many challenges specifically due to schooling and the shutdown of school which postponed the children’s adjustment to Canadian life. As well, because of language barriers my children were unable to participate in online classes which delayed their education. Unfortunately, in this area there are not a lot of resources that are geared towards English Second Language learning and those that I have found are mostly directed to adults.
Other challenges we faced when transitioning back to this area were also mostly related to the pandemic; there were not many social resources available for us to participate in, we could not find a Japanese community in the area but we are hoping that in the coming months to find some individuals who are in a similar situation as ourselves, as well as find people in our area who also speak Japanese.. One of the other things about coming back to Leeds and Grenville is that there are not a lot of shops or restaurants that cater to our Japanese needs. Travelling to Ottawa and Kingston regularly to do groceries is sometimes not feasible.
Going forward one of the things that I would really like to do is to develop some relationships with individuals who have had similar experiences to mine, particularly with those who have lived abroad and have returned to Leeds and Grenville. I think people in this situation have a very different experience when moving back to this area and can also offer a lot of support to people who are just coming to the area for the first time. We have a different outlook on how adjusting to a new life can be both in a foreign country as well as in our country of birth.
I think one of the most important things for people to know about people who have moved to Canada is that there are a variety of situations happening and although we may be very happy to be here there are many emotions that can be experienced, including sadness, frustration, anger, loneliness. There are a variety of factors that we can struggle with every day; language, religion, clothing, schooling, food, expectations and perceptions. The most important thing for people to do is to be compassionate, empathetic, and understanding and to ask questions. I cannot stress this enough. Ask questions. Let us ask questions. Let’s learn from each other and share what makes us individuals. It is fine to ask questions, just be mindful to ask appropriate questions from a genuine place of compassion and curiosity.
In all honesty, I want to talk about my experience in Japan. I want to talk about how hard it is to move home after spending most of my adult life in another country, but I want to be met with curiosity and compassion, not the idea that I should be so happy and grateful that I am living here. Many people who move here give up a life in their own country. We may have left family there, we gave up friends, maybe jobs and we are rebuilding a life in an unfamiliar place, that may sometimes feel a little weird, to be honest. There are some things we don’t know how to do, some protocols or etiquette we don’t know, so it is also important for us to ask questions, and to feel comfortable in asking those questions. To not be met with judgement, but with understanding.