Read an Immigrant’s Story from Nigeria to CanadaEkes Isibor 26th June 2019 0 COMMENTS
My journey to Canada was not preplanned so I really did not have a large platform to rest my expectations on. I just knew that when I arrived as a student, I was going to give in my best in order to achieve my goals . As an African student, I wanted to prove a point that Africans were equally as intelligent when equipped with the right tools in a good environment. In hindsight, there was nothing to prove.
In Canada, I was completely blind sighted by a totally new culture. Much more different from where I was coming from. My final destination was a small town of about a 100,000 people called Thunder Bay, in Ontario. I must confess, the first thing I noticed was their extreme politeness. I mean, the people I came in contact with could go to the extreme to get your needs met. I was so impressed that the first email I sent to my siblings back home was describing their politeness.
Secondly, because there were a few black people, we all related as brothers and sisters irrespective of the country we came from; I loved it. There are many beautiful things to write about Thunder Bay; the friendly people, culture, activities, diversity, to name a few. Then came to ugly side- my accent. Prior to my arrival, I only knew about igbo, yoruba, hausa and other ethnic group accent in Nigeria. I never saw myself as having an accent when I was in Nigeria. In Canada, I would have to repeat my self several times before I could be understood. I remembered spelling out “hot chocolate” to a Tim Horton’s staff when she couldn’t understand me. Finally, I got the trick but that’s a story for another day.
Just as I was still dumbfounded on how to get myself easily understood by Canadians, then came the next blow from my new African relatives. They said “as an immigrant, if you want to lead a comfortable life, you must get a job in the health care sector.” This was because irrespective of your accent, people always needed care. What? I mean, I am a chartered Accountant (ACCA, internationally recognized). So where do I keep this hard earned certificate? Where do I start from in the health care field? I had so many questions. But as I have always believed, where there is a will, there is a way. I got enrolled again in a Nursing program at Bow Valley College, in Calgary, a much bigger city.
Although I wasn’t so happy about it, it seemed like it was the only choice I had. I worked hard to get to where I was in Nigeria and Canada. I have a B.Sc in Business Education, I am a chartered Accountant and I just finished top of my class (GPA of 4/4, with a cummulative average of 96%) in international business and trade even in Canada. Now, I was goimg to put all of these aside to begin a new journey.
In December of 2013, my journey to Calgary began. We were well received by a family we had contacted while in Thunder Bay. However, after two days, they just went into thin air. Everyone was busy doing 2-3 jobs to pay the bills. So I understood that creating time to receive a couple, providing transportation and meals for two days was a big sacrifice. In May 2014, I started my nursing program doing two jobs along side my husband to ensure we paid the expensive international school fees. I graduated with very good grades something employers care little about. Then I got a few nursing jobs here and there. I loved it too. Naturally, I love caring for others with or without pay, so blending into the health care field wasn’t much of a challenge to me.
I have learnt so many lessons. In a foreign country, the quality of information you get, the people you know, the city you live in all go a long way in influencing the decisions you make, which in turn determine the quality of life you live. I later found out that in a bigger city, I could work as an Accountant despite my accent. It was much more diversified and your accent could even be your asset in any career field. There are also resources available that support career switch and advice. Again, you have to get that information.
At the end, I don’t regret being a nurse. I consider it a double blessing providing me with the opportunity to be in two different fields and be very knowledgeable about them. I love being a nurse and an Accountant at the same time.
Ekes is an ACCA chartered accountant and a nurse. She is married with three children and currently lives in Canada.