I came to Canada in June 2006. It was summer, but it was cold for me. Everything was stranger than my country. I did not know much English, so it was hard to communicate with the people. I got a part-time job at the Yukon News, 3 days after I arrived in Whitehorse. I needed transportation. A Canadian lady was selling a bicycle for 30$. When I told her I just arrived in Canada and just got a job, she gave me the bike. She didn’t want me to pay for it. I was very emotional; it was so kind of her. The first day I went to work I was very nervous because I did not know if my co-workers would welcome me or not. I did not speak much English, and I didn’t have any experience doing that job. But they were helpful and friendly. They trained me to meet the quota of 600 papers a day. Ten days later I got a second job. This was a full time job at MacDonald’s. I was more confident with this job. I was a cook and I cleaned the grills after they closed. I rode my bike home and enjoyed the cold windy Yukon at midnight.
In September I got a third job, another part time job at the Coast High Country Inn. My coworkers said that it was one of the biggest hotels in town and most people who work for the government went there to enjoy the food and have a few drinks after their shift. They told me it was a safe place to work.
I wanted to go to English classes, but my income was not enough to pay the bills, so I thought I would go school later when I had a better job and a better salary.
December was the first winter I lived in Canada. It was cold. So cold for me. I heard the people say that winter is very cold, but I had never thought it could be cold like that. I wore 4 jackets at a time and I was still cold. I couldn’t ride my bike to work anymore. I had to take the bus to work and take a taxi home because the busses stopped running before I finished. In my country I was told if you are late to work 3 times in Canada you will get fired. So I was always scared I would be late for work. It was hard going from job to job each day. They were far apart and I didn’t have much time. One day the bus drove right past me. I was scared I would be late, so I went back home, got my bike and pedaled very fast. Too fast. I turned left. The road was slippery. I crashed. Me and the bike rolled over a couple of times. When I got up I saw the chain had come off. What to do? I was scared I would be late. I just picked up my bike and ran the rest of the way carrying it. When I got to work I threw it down in the parking lot and ran inside. I was so cold. Everything was cold, my ears, my nose, my head, my hands, my feet, everything. It took me a long time to get warm. My hands were frozen. My ears were frozen. Everything was frozen. But I made it on time!
I really wanted to go back to my country, but I could not because the ticket cost was too expensive, and I would have to pay rent to keep my room until I got back. In April the weather started to warm up. I knew I needed a driver’s license and a car to drive to work. I didn’t want to wait for the bus in horrible weather. Sometimes it got to 30 or 40 below. It was hard to get to all my jobs.
In 2009 I finally got my driver’s licence and an American car. I felt confident in myself to settle down and live in the Yukon. I was still working 3 jobs, but with a car I had more time to sleep and didn’t get so cold going to work.
2011 was a special year. I went back to my country and married a Vietnamese lady. We had a great time together and travelled a little on our honeymoon. By the time I got back to Canada, NVD (the owner company of the hotels) had partnered with Frontier College and introduced the English class for all NVD employees who need to learn English. It was an amazing program because it changed a lot of things for my life. The first day I had my class in the hotel, I met my teacher. She was a Canadian lady. We had a little conversation so she could figure out what I needed to learn. She explained things to me very clearly when I told her didn’t understand. I felt very interested in my English class and I knew that this chance would help me improve my English faster.
In 2012 I had a boy and I applied for them to come to Canada to live together with me. Then I waited for over 2 years, but I didn’t hear anything from CIC. My teacher explained to me that I could go and visit my Member of Parliament, that he, or his staff may be able to help me. She and me went together to Larry Bagnell’s office. His staff took all my information and sent an email to the embassy in Singapore (the office that handles Visa’s for Asian countries). I waited another 2 months and finally they got back to me saying the Singapore office was waiting for the results of the DNA test my family and I had to do. I didn’t understand because we had done the test a year after I submitted my application. The office explained to me that when the Canadian Government had changed, the staff in the Singapore office had also changed and somehow the results of the DNA test had been lost. I asked my teacher for help and she contacted the lab that performed the test and arranged for the results to be resent to the embassy.
Still I waited. During this time I decided to apply for Canadian citizenship. First I passed the language proficiency test (I had to be a level 4) and then my teacher trained me well to help me understand Canadian history and culture.
Finally my family came to Canada, 5 years after I completed and sent the application. I didn’t know enough English to know how to communicate with the government. Many times I wanted to give it up. I wanted to go back to my country to open a small business and just enjoy a simple life. I felt tired. Too much stress and so many things I must figure out. But my teacher kept encouraging me. She told me “Never give up. If you don’t try you won’t make it. Everything will be ok, trust me.”
In 2017 it was Canada’s 150th
celebration. I was invited to write the citizenship exam on June 30th
. If I passed I would take the Oath of Citizenship on Canada. Day. That morning I passed 18 out of 20 questions. When I got out of the exam room my teacher was waiting for me. She smiled and said “Congratulations!” The next day she was there again and said “Congratulations! You are Canadian now!”
So many seasons have come and gone since I first arrived. The time ran so fast. I resolved many problems to settle here to live in Canada. I know I have a lot of things that I will have to go figure out in the future. Thank you so much to all the people who helped me and encouraged me to be stronger. To stand up to walk on the way I have to go. Thank you again.