Our Family’s 20th Anniversary as Permanent ResidentsStuart Kirk, CIM®, Senior Wealth Advisor
Feb 6, 2018 our family celebrated our 20th anniversary of the day we landed as permanent residents in Canada.
Louise, the love of my life, with our two daughters Rebecca and Bronwyn emigrated to Canada from South Africa in February 1998. We were in our mid thirties with our two girls aged two years and five months. Emigrating was an extremely emotional decision. Imagine for one minute making the decision to leave your country due to violent crime and corruption, you don’t really want to leave but you know that another country can provide you with a better life, safety and greater opportunities for your kids. You sell your home, cars and arrange for some furniture to be shipped. You leave your family and friends behind and you are told by some people that you are joining the “chicken run”. You arrive with a few suit cases, not much cash and no job, but you arrive with hope, which is more valuable than anything you own.
We arrived In Vancouver on a dark and gloomy February 6 1998 on a flight from London, England. We flew via London to break up the long journey to get to the other side of the planet, our first leg was Johannesburg to London. I remember us standing in the long line up waiting to go through immigration with our young family visibly tired from the long trip. A young customs lady sitting in an office noticed us, she walked over to an unused booth and called us over. She processed our landed immigrant papers and looked up and said the three words that I will never forget “Welcome to Canada”. I almost reached over the counter to hug her but did not want to get arrested ten seconds after officially becoming a landed immigrant, at that stage I did not know what Canada’s policy was with regards to hugging customs officials, quite frankly I still don’t know. I do not know who the young lady was but she will never know how much her actions meant to us as a family going through a very difficult change in our lives, and this was the start for me of defining who Canadians are.
The first year in Canada was not easy, we had to use our savings to subsidize our income and there were definitely some days that we thought we should never have moved, but we persevered. We were surprised that Canadians did not treat us any differently because we were immigrants. We quickly learnt that Canadians understood that this was a land built by immigrants and many admired us for making the bold move. We became proud Canadian citizens a few years later in March 2002 which again was a pretty emotional and uplifting experience.
My career break in Canada came in April 1999 when Franklin Templeton Investments hired me, I could once again do the job that I was familiar with prior to leaving South Africa. This was familiar territory for me and I excelled in my new job. Ten years later in 2009 I got the opportunity to become a business owner and grabbed it with two hands and this is where I am today.
From an immigrants perspective Canada is an incredible country with wonderful people. I have come to love Canada not because of it’s mountains, beaches and breathtaking landscape but because of it’s people. I simply have to smile when I read or hear people complaining because I know, as an immigrant, that they have no idea how good they have it here.
I would like to thank all Canadians for their assistance, compassion and understanding and for taking me and my family into your family, we will always be grateful to you. Thank You Canada.