I recently got a chance to catch up with a high school friend through Facebook. He and his family are based in another country. When he learned that I am in Winnipeg, he asked a few questions about my location, “Where is Winnipeg? There are a lot of cities in Canada, why did you choose there?”
If these questions were asked to me during my first year here in Canada, I’ll probably have one answer. “I came here to Winnipeg because this is where my cousin is, as she is my “passport” to apply under the provincial nominee program through the family stream.
In Winnipeg’s Community Trends Report in April 2012, it was reported that Manitoba has been the most successful user of the nominee system and Winnipeg’s immigration is 5th highest of Canadian cities in 2011 (top 4 cities were – (1) Toronto (2) Vancouver (3) Montreal (4) Calgary.)
To be honest, I didn’t actually like what I saw when I first came to Winnipeg. The stories from some friends who are in other cities of Canada even added to the pressure that my husband and I felt – we want to move to another city. The plan was just to establish a little here in Winnipeg and maybe after 2 years we can move to another city. But we are on our third year now and the thought of moving to another city was put aside.
Why did I put this plan aside? Here are my three reasons:
- The cost of housing and other necessities are significantly lower. One good example is that people here are able to buy their own house – even big houses! I know some friends and distant relatives who have been in Canada (in another city) longer that we did, but they have been renting their place since they came, because they cannot afford to buy a house. They may have higher salary in Vancouver or Toronto than we do here in ‘Peg, but we are making more of our salary than them because living in those cities are more costly.
- I believe that the degree of de-professionalization is very low in Winnipeg than in other cities. Normally, immigrants who came to Toronto and Vancouver have come through the live-in care program, while some of those who came to Calgary with working visa work in hotels, restaurants or coffee shops. I do not have problems with these kind of jobs, in fact, I also worked for a coffee shop here in Winnipeg for more than 1 year. My point is, it is better to get the job in the same field that you are in. Here in Winnipeg, it is not impossible, I know a lot of people here in Peg who are still on their chosen fields and I myself know this for a fact. I first thought of just pursuing a labor job, but a part of me will always want to do the kind of job that I know.
- Despite being a small city (of a small province) and the very cold climate, I find Winnipeg to be a very welcoming place, Winnipegers are very warm people – and by saying that I don’t just mean Filipino people, Canadians are indeed very friendly. And ofcourse you who wouldn’t feel at home when you know that you will arrive in a place where there are a lot of your fellowmen (kababayan, as we Filipinos call it) – yes, there are more than 36,000 Filipinos in Winnipeg.
For someone who came from a place where it never snows, I must admit that -42 C in winter is quite shocking. Canada is very far from Philippines and for an ordinary employee like me I cannot afford to travel to the Philippines as much as I want to. That is why the large Filipino community here in Winnipeg makes it easy for immigrants, like me to adjust. If you are a Filipino immigrant, it’ll be easy for you to find support system from the large Filipino community in this city.
It can’t be denied, Filipinos are already a big part of Winnipeg, in fact, Tagalog is considered as the second language in Winnipeg. The presence of Filipino culture is very evident in Filipino food, services, music and news that you can find around the city. Winnipeg has Filipino newspapers (Pilipino Express, Ang Peryodiko & Filipino Journal) and a radio station that air Tagalog songs and broadcasts Filipino related news (CKJS). There are grocery stores like Tindahan-Food Mart, Bueno and Power Plant or restaurants and bakeries like Jimmel’s, Myrna’s, Pampanga and Marcel’s and other businesses that are very Filipino. Some streets in Winnipeg are even named after our Filipino heroes like Jose Rizal. These and many other reasons made more Filipinos like me feel that indeed, Winnipeg is a place which we can also call HOME.
Which city in Canada are you in right now? What are the things that you love about your city?