I came to Canada twenty eight years ago in the last day of January 1989. I was forty six at that time. After almost three decades living in this country I can say: Canada is the best country in the world for an immigrant to live.
At that time Argentinians were accepted in Canada without visa; only with a valid passport. I came impelled by a severe financial crisis in my country and having no job to provide for my family.
I entered as a visitor with the hope of being hired by the Ontario Conference of the SDAC as a Colporteur or Literature Evangelist. This is, to go door to door selling Bibles and several books on Christian faith and healthy living. I knew that job, I had been a colporteur in Argentina for quite a time. By having that job I would have been able to apply for a religious worker´s visa immediately.
I placed an application to the Ontario Conference, but for reasons I couldn’t ever know, my application never got to the Conference Board, the time ran out and my visitor’s visa ended.
So I got trapped by the circumstances. Good friends in my country had bought my ticket to come to Canada and I was expected to return the money to them in a no long time. At the same time I had no work permit in Canada.
Almost in desperation I looked for advice and the result of my search was: “Do not desperate. You’ll find a job even without your work permit. Work hard, stay on your feet. Don’t ever ask for any kind of subsidy from the federal or the provincial government . Bring the rest of your family and have all of them work. Life is not going to be easy at first. Don’t let strangers know you condition. Wait for some five years from your arrival and then bring your case to the immigration office”.
I did it all as advised. It was a long and hard time for me and my whole family: every day in fear, with the Damocles sword pending above our heads all the time.
I waited those five painful years. In the meantime the local board of education, after hearing from me what was my real condition, even against the law they gave my four children the opportunity to attend school. Mine is the only case like this I know. They made a big exception to my children at a serious legal risk to themselves. They did that only by compassion, knowing that my case could take years to clear up.
After five long years many people got to know me and my family, especially within the church. They wrote five precious letters of recommendation: one from the members of the church I was serving as a volunteer pastor, then from the local pastor, from the president of the Ontario Conference, from another pastor and from a member of the World Headquarter Board of the church in Washington DC.
I went to the first interview at Immigration Office shaking head to toe. At the end of the interview, the officer, a lady from Trinidad and Tobago, said to me: “Mr. Perrone, why did you wait for such a long time to come? With this recommendations we would grant you the residence at the second year!
This is why: at the second year I was quite unknown for people around and did not have those precious recommendations. They came over the years as members and leaders in the church got to know me and my family.
Two more years after that interview, I was granted the landed immigrant status with my whole family. In the meantime we had been given temporary work permits and visa.
After a few years we applied for citizenship and became Canadian citizen. I am proud to be Canadian.
People in Canada are notably kind and polite in dealing with newcomers. Nobody underestimated my country of origin, my language, My black hair or my dark brown eyes. Canadians are used to deal with immigrants. Many of them are immigrants themselves or children of immigrants.
Hispanic immigrants are a minority in Canada. It’s said that the most spoken language in Toronto, after English and French, is not Spanish but Arabic.
Canada needs to receive immigrants every year, lest it get depopulated. Many Canadians soon after retirement or even before, fly to Florida in order to escape from the snowy and unmerciful Canadian winter. Some immigrants cannot withstand the harshness of the cold season and move back to their countries or go to the United States. For many people winter is something too difficult to cope with.
I have to confess that winter here is a hard time to me every season. In past years I suffered what they call “Winter Depression”. At this time in January and February I almost cannot see the sun and are mostly confined at home due to the snow and ice outside. (I am 74).
On the other hand, cold weather keeps the county clean a safe. There are no poisonous snakes on the fields. Many pests that are common in warmer places do not prosper in temperatures way below zero for three or four months in a row. This is not a good place to live outside the year around. Lazy people working in nothing cannot survive on the streets night after night with 15 or 20 degrees celsius below zero. Those people find it much nicer and comfortable to live in Florida, Texas or California. Canada has a comparatively low criminal rate in comparison with the States.
You cannot live in Canada unless you have a really nice and warm house. Warm weather to go on vacation is mostly July and August. The rest is winter for those immigrants like me, coming from warm countries. January and February is the coldest time of the year.
Canadian social order
When I first entered Canada I got deeply impressed by the order Canadians have in everything they do. Here everything is easy to plan, easy to follow, predictable, coherent. If you want to walk along with them, you have also to be as consistent, predictable, punctual, careful with the details as they are. Otherwise you’ll be in trouble over and over. Some immigrants do not understand this and do not discern the value of such cultural behaviour. So they complain and cause problems.
Canadian honesty and kindness
I was also impressed by the honest way they deal to each other and their trust in the word of mouth. No many legal documents are written. Your word is a document. Fulfilling one’s verbal promise is a serious matter of honor. This trust makes life much more easy.
People are very friendly and willing to help if they can and know how. Now I am living in a small town in the south of Ontario. The kindness of people here is beyond description. I enjoy their lovely and loving natural disposition every single day.
I loved this country since the first day I stepped in. As soon I saw people and understood how they are, I decided, along with my family, to live for Canada, not at the expense of Canada.
Sad to say, some immigrants come to profit from the country instead of being an asset to it.
As a Canadian Citizen I receive free medical attention and all kinds of basic medical services and medicines from the province of Ontario. As I had no enough years of service in Canada before retiring to receive a full pension, the government gives me an Old Age Security Pension which almost cover all my expenses. For this and many other facts I can say Canada is a careful country that takes care of elderly and disabled people. Nobody in Canada has to live in the cold or lack of food or medical care.
Both in winter or summer people take especial care to embellish their houses. Front yards in small towns are full of flowers and decorations every spring. Visitors love taking photos of them. Roads are in high level of maintenance. Everything looks nice and clean.
Of course, not everything in Canada is perfect. You can disagree with this or that. But good things are so good that I can say: “Canada is the best country in the world for an immigrant to live.