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Victor: A Free and Happy Country

1. What was your journey here?

I came to Canada from the Ivory Coast. I had seen Canada on the TV, so it was like a dream that I was able to come here. I was able to come to Canada as a refugee after being accepted as a UN designated refugee. I had to have interviews, and I couldn’t believe it when I got one to come to Canada. I’d had one before for the USA, and my focus was on the USA before. But after the interview for Canada, I asked when I would hear back, and the interviewer told me to keep my phone on. I still remember getting the call. And even better, when I first landed and heard the words “Welcome to Canada.” That is something I’ll never forget.

2. What do you miss about your birth country?

I miss my family and friends. Also some of the celebrations I’d be going to. Our New Year’s has everyone in the streets, and knocking on neighbours doors as midnight hits, getting them out to join everyone. It’s one giant celebration. But things like foods I can find here. Although I do go to church here, I sometimes miss the style of church we have at home. I have visited a church like that in Toronto and enjoyed that.

3. Was there anything about Canada that surprised you?

I was really surprised by the snow. The cold was fine, but seeing real snow, falling from the sky, I couldn’t believe it.

4. What’s the same/different about your birth country and Canada?

One thing is riding a bicycle. I didn’t learn back in Liberia, I thought the two wheels and way it was didn’t look safe, but I learned once I came to Canada in one day. From there I graduated to an e-bike, and eventually a car.

5. Who/What has helped you most since your arrival?

The people who were part of the group that brought me over have become my seven mothers and three fathers. Because of them, I’ve never lacked anything. I just say the word to Nancy, or any of my other “parents” and they put the word out to their networks, and I can get whatever I need by the end of the day a lot of the time.

The other is Burnbrae Farms. They hired me based on my ability to work, rather than what my resume had. They hired me in 2016, just after my first job at Hall’s Apple Orchard as a seasonal worker was up. I finished that job and that same day, got a call from one of my mothers about the job at Burnbrae. I feel I had and still have an angel watching over me, ensuring I have everything I need, and I don’t need to worry. Since starting at Burnbrae, I have both become a permanent employee, and also recommended others to start there.

6. What are your goals for the future?

I want to become a Canadian citizen and I would love to have my family join me here. I’m also hoping to be able to go to the Ivory Coast and meet my family here for a visit in the future. Before the pandemic, I was supposed to go to Washington State to be able to meet up with my sister, but unfortunately that’s on hold for now, but I hope to be able to do that soon. I’m also working on saving to pay off my car so I can be debt-free.

7. What has been your favourite thing since arriving in Canada?

Two of my favourite things have been hamburgers and pizza. They’re some of my new favourite foods. I also love meeting new people and getting to know them.

8. Do you have any advice for newcomers to the area?

Any newcomer shouldn’t be afraid or worried. They should be happy to come to Canada, they’ll find the same or more opportunities than they would have had at home. Don’t be afraid. Feel free. Canada is a free and happy country.

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