Grant

Grant came to Canada with his wife in 2007 after she received a job offer from the National Research Council. The plan was to stay here for only a couple of years before returning to their home in China.  Three years later, they decided that Canada was right for them and they applied for Permanent Residency status and brought their son from China to join them.
Grant says that there were many factors that influenced their decision. In particular, though, it was the better opportunities available to their son that had the greatest impact. Grant likes the education system in Canada and how it places much less pressure on students while offering richer educational resources. Students have less homework and the competition isn’t as intense. There are also many extra-curricular activities that children can take part in, things like swimming, soccer, and skating.
Upon his arrival, Grant’s impressive educational background helped him to secure a job as a research assistant at the University of Saskatchewan. He worked there for about six years, but found that the job offered very few opportunities for improving his English speaking and listening skills. Although his ability to read and write English was very strong, he found his strong Chinese accent and inaccurate pronunciation to be discouraging. This led him to seek out GGP and the Coffee and Conversation program.
Grant appreciates how much he was able to improve his pronunciation and fluency as a result of attending GGP’s programs. His language ability is much, much better now and he appreciates everything else he gained from GGP’s programs, particularly from Coffee and Conversation and Family, Fun, and Fit. It was wonderful too that his son was included in some of the weekend activities like mini golfing and swimming.
Grant and his family really like Canada and they have decided to make it their forever home. They have applied for Canadian citizenship and look forward to becoming more involved in their community. They want to be able to vote and to have a say in the decisions that shape this country.  They also look forward to continuing to enjoy some of Canada’s simpler pleasures. For example, the fact that there are so many green spaces open to the public is something they love. In China, with its much higher and denser population, lawns must be protected from people. Grant remembers how impressed he was the first time he saw children and families playing sports or enjoying other activities on one of Saskatoon’s many grassy spaces.
Grant hopes to build his career, either in the finance industry or at a university doing research work. He holds a PhD in Mathematical Finance and is looking into completing his Masters of Quantitative Finance. He is also very close to achieving a designation in the financial field with the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. He hopes that a Canadian degree and Canadian credentials will open up wider career opportunities. He would also like to meet and become friends with more local people.
Whatever he decides and wherever he finds himself, we wish him the greatest of success.

Finda

Meet Finda, a Canadian citizen who first came to Canada in 2004 as a refugee from Sierra Leone. Finda is remarkable in that she seems to radiate joy. She says that coming to Canada was a dream and becoming a citizen was the culmination of that dream. She is proud to be a citizen of a country so full of love and consideration for its people. Buoyed by that positive energy, she is confident in a bright future.

Before moving here, Finda lived for seven years in a refugee camp in Gambia. She says that conditions in the camp were terrible. There wasn’t enough food, water, or necessities like clothes to go around. Life was so hard. Finda was so excited when she found out she could come to Canada because Canada was known among the people in the camp as the best country of all. Even so, she was apprehensive. Then one night, she had a dream. In her dream, she could see a shining light with people inside of it. She felt that the dream was God showing her future in Canada; a future filled with brilliant light.

Finda says that she was very depressed when she was in Africa. In Gambia, there was nowhere she could work, or earn money and no ability to access anything like a student loan that could allow her to study. So, she felt that she had no future. She was lucky that she was able to come to Canada as a Government Assisted Refugee. She was met at the airport by people who helped her and her family settle down. She was overwhelmed by the kindness of Canadians, especially the women. Canadian women are filled with compassion she says, “they moved me from suffering—from darkness into light.” She says that she left her depression in Africa and has found a place where people respect her, like her, and help her.

Finda has found life to be much easier in Canada. It’s easier, more relaxing, and there is peace.  Shortly after arriving, Finda found work housekeeping at the hospital. She’s been working there now for eight years and she says that it’s an amazing place to work, surrounded by other very good people. Her employment was recently upgraded to permanent full-time, an important development which allows her to be able to build and plan for her future.

Finda laughs as she talks about how scared she was the first time she saw the snow. The snow fell during the night and when she woke up and saw it for the first time, she was afraid to go outside even though she knew that she had to go to work. She called her friends for advice and they offered reassurance and coaxed her to venture out. She went outside and the snow reached up to her knees. She said that she was very afraid but, at the same time, was struck by how beautiful everything was, blanketed in sparkling white. Bundled inside four coats, she couldn’t even lift her arms. Even so, she managed to get on the bus and begin learning about how to survive the winter.

Finda meets and talks to a lot of people. She knows that there are many who face real problems and sometimes they talk to her about their difficulties. However, for her, life is very good. She says that she likes the people here and she lives in a nice neighbourhood. Her face breaks into a wide smile as she explains that even though she’s the only black person in the whole apartment block, she’s never once felt discriminated against. She’s never faced it and she says that her children have never faced it either.

The future for Finda and her children is bright here in Canada. She works hard, she’s surrounded herself with strong and caring friends, and she takes advantage of every opportunity for personal growth. Right now, for example, she’s learning how to use the computer. She is grateful to the Global Gathering Place for the help she receives and, in turn, we at Global Gathering Place are grateful to Finda for her positive attitude, winning smile, and willingness to lend a helping hand. She is a shining example of why we exist.

Afroza

Afroza is a woman who has experienced true love. She describes her husband as kind, loving, passionate, intelligent, and funny. As she speaks, an image of someone truly amazing materializes under the spell of her words. The beauty of their union shines through with each catch of her voice as she describes this man who was loved so dearly and lost too soon. The careful listener also begins to get a sense of the amazing woman who was, in turn, loved by this man.

Originally from Bangladesh, Afroza came to Canada last February. She came under the family sponsorship class, helped by her brother who has lived in Canada for eighteen years. Shortly before coming to Canada, her husband suffered a fatal heart attack which plunged Afroza into a world of sorrow. However, she says that she’s not the type of person who will ever give up. Starting over is hard work, but she’s definitely up for the challenge.  

Afroza remembers how excited and happy she was to learn that she could come to Canada. It was the realization of a dream and she looked forward to living in a country with such a strong reputation for peace and for respect of human rights. She also looked forward to the egalitarian society that Canadians enjoy. The strict class structure that continues to exist in Bangladesh is something she always railed against.

Afroza grew up part of a liberal family in a conservative country. Her father was a co-pilot in the air force and was able to provide her with opportunities to travel to many different countries. Her mother was a teacher, and Afroza was raised to be strong and independent. By the age of sixteen, she remembers, she would travel alone, something normally unheard of for a young woman in Bangladesh. She would also go cycling and wear casual clothing.  Even so, it was hard to be in places alone, was impossible to work at night, and there was always a requirement to be covered.

Afroza loves Canada. She even loves the winter, which her family finds very strange. She’s frustrated that her work experience and credentials did not transfer to Canada and this has made finding good and fulfilling employment a real struggle. At the moment, she is working several part time positions and volunteering where she can. Volunteering is something that she particularly enjoys. She says it feels very good to be able to give of oneself while helping others, and the experience she gains will help with securing a better job down the road.

In the meantime, Global Gathering Place has become something that feels like home and the staff and fellow clients have become like family. She is both client and volunteer, taking part in programs and helping out with administrative tasks when she can. She is always cheerful and positive and is someone who has discovered how to live with purpose. When asked to describe what is important in life, her reply was a perfect reflection of what it is to be Afroza. She answered:

Be kind, polite, considerate, courteous, and display your best behaviour. Remember, a smile can make another person happy. Be the best person you can be. Know yourself first of all. Try to help people, try to make yourself better. Volunteer your time—give of yourself. There are people who need you.”

Welcome to Canada, Afroza. May you find peace, joy, and fulfillment.

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