You are new in Canada where you have to restart every aspect of your life as an immigrant. Whether it is the war and conflict at home that made you pursue this path or the economic prospects, or decision you made for your family – no matter what your reasons are – coming to a new place and creating a new life is a daunting task. The Immigrant Life welcomes you to Canada and promises to be with you through thick and thin. We are cheering for you to thrive.
As someone with a young kid, my son and I enjoy our rides in public transport. Thanks to Go Transit and Metrolinx, many of our new friendships have evolved from the small talks in the buses and trains. This past week we were off-loaded from our subway train because there was a disruption in the service at the line we were taking. The two of us stood in a crowd outside St. George station waiting for a shuttle bus to take us to a connecting line. This wasn’t in our plan and our usual commute of one hour ended up becoming more than two hours. As the shuttle bus arrived to ferry us to our connecting station, people rushed to get in crushing my little one in the middle. I gave up on two buses as it became hard for us to push ourselves into the door but we braved the crowd to get into the third one. The shuttle reminded me of the overcrowded public buses in my home country Nepal where people trample on one another, the air smells of bad breath, hair oil and sweat. The difference here was people were masked. However, none of this inconvenience deterred my four-year old. He enjoyed the ride, the sudden stops that threw him off balance while he tried to hold on to the seat railings were more fun for him. He talked to anyone who was willing to listen or engage. It was in this bus ride that I heard someone talking in Nepali language. We struck a conversation, and a new friendship was born at the crowded public transport as it navigated Toronto downtown.
One of the challenges we all immigrants have faced is forming our community, a new one in our new country. Fear not. The Immigrant Life brings you how to go about it.
- If you are young and single, look to share your new home with someone. That someone could be from a different country, a new immigrant just like yourself or Canada-born.
- Join a yoga or workout group where you can find the inspiration to stay in shape as well as make friends.
- Say Yes. When someone invites you for a cleanup campaign, a social meetup or a book club, go for it.
- Go to a language class. Try brushing up your English skill or learn French or any other language where you can find friends.
- Join a church, mosque, temple, and other religious or spiritual groups where you will meet people who align with your beliefs.
- Be of service. Make time to volunteer in social organizations and activities that resonate with you.
- With the pandemic restrictions easing, get back to the local library.
- There are many community centres and immigrant settlement agencies in cities across Canada that help you connect with others.
- Make use of social media. Find Facebook groups, LinkedIn circles where you can find people that have similar interest as yours and match with them. If you are looking for more, you can try Tinder, Grindr or Bumble.
- Be confident. As newcomers, we are often shy or hesitate to initiate a conversation. Be comfortable with yourself and shed your inhibitions.
- Find something you are passionate about – that can be a sport, love for music, art, books, or other hobbies – and look for those with similar interests particularly through a social media.
- Be open. Don’t be shy about putting yourself out there whether it is in a social media post or in person gathering. Have a voice and make it heard.
- Ask questions. There are many things that we do not know as newcomers. Ask all silly and profound questions.
- If you have children find other children of the same age groups, arrange for a play date for them as well as for yourself where you can bond with the parents.
- If you have a pet, go for walks and socialise with others with the pets do so.
When you form a friendship, work on it to make it stronger.
- Share stories.
- Be open to new culture and way of life.
- Have potlucks.
- Go for hikes.
- Organize picnics.
- Go shopping.
- Meet for coffee.
- Take a walk together.
- Introduce your hobbies.
- Introduce your new friends to your culture, music and literature.
- Cook meals together – sharing your indigenous cuisine.
- Plan holidays together.
- Be involved and interested in them without being intrusive.
- Be there for one another – at good times and tough ones.
Remember, The Immigrant Life is your friend in this journey. Be a part of the community. Some of us are starting the path, some of us have rooted ourselves in the Canadian way of life. No matter where we are, we are here for each other. Share your stories, lessons learned and help another immigrant settle.