Canada Turns 150
By: Vanessa Francone
Oh Canada – the land of maple syrup, hockey, bacon, Tragically Hip…and over 1 million small businesses. Tech is thriving, and in Canada’s 150th year, more and more people are moving here for school, jobs, or building out their companies.
The GO North Canada campaign, launched in June 2016, is an example of attracting international talent to Canadian soil. According to this report, 864,000 Canadians were employed in the tech Sector in 2015, which made up 5.6 percent of Canada’s total employment. And in the past couple of months, small Canadian companies have been getting interest from a pool of American and international job applicants they hadn’t heard from before, increasing the number of tech employees in the country.
Because Canada turns 150 this weekend, the LIZ decided to take a look at our community and see where some of our international members are from, what caused them to take the leap into Canada, and what they enjoy most about it.
Software Engineer @ Law Scout
“I feel like being Canadian is almost defined as not being American.”
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Moved here: October 2016
Why: I got a job here, which I thought was pretty cool with a good team and an interesting startup. I also had Canadian citizenship because my mom is from Halifax and I never really took advantage of it, so I figured it would be an interesting experience to live in Toronto. I also have a lot of family here so it would be nice to spend some time with them.
Fondest memory while being in Canada? Hard to say. Getting to spend a lot of time with my cousins who are 9, 11 and 13. They’re kind of at an age where they are really interesting to hang out and talk with and I like how kids have a unique perspective on the world. They quiz me on all the provinces. Me having to name all of the provinces was pretty fun. They like to ask me a lot of questions about Donald Trump, which is also fun.
Machine Learning Engineer @ Diligen
“I want my story to be a success story.”
Hometown: Born in Malatya, Turkey. From Istanbul, Turkey.
Moved here: August 2016
Why: My wife and I wanted to make a change in our lives and we did the research and found out that Canada would be the best option for us. I came here with my wife with a student permit, and me with a work permit.
What was the ultimate deciding factor about Canada? The major thing was Canada was the most welcoming country for newcomers and it is easier to integrate in this country and get a permanent residency.
What does it mean to be Canadian to you? It means loving your country and a feeling to contribute to your country. Try to make this place, this country, a better place for everyone.
COO and Co-Founder @ Legally Inc.
“Nobody can really tell you you’re not Canadian.”
Hometown: Arad, Israel
Moved here: May 2000
Why: It was a decision my dad made. When I’ve spoken to him about it, he wanted something busier. More economic opportunity, more social mobility, different type of people relations… he wanted to do something less passive, and he thought Canada was the right place for that.
Favourite part about Canada: The diversity. Diversity in the sense that you interact with this diversity. You don’t just see it. You talk to people who are from all sorts of backgrounds, but want similar things. And through that, you’re able to almost choose who you want to be. You don’t grow up where you’re always surrounded by the same people and family and their views only reinforce what it is you may have already been told. You’re constantly being challenged to reconcile your views with other people…There’s so many different roles, so many different offerings, and by being able to learn from a wide array of people and experiences, you can stitch your own experience and be more accepting of it.
Renata Menezes and Rafael Miranda
Founders @ Legalbox
“The best part about Canada is Canadians.”
Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil
Moved here: June 2016
Rafael: Because of Olivia [daughter].
Renata: It was a personal decision because we wanted to give her a better environment. We had a good life in Brazil, but it’s not that safe and we kind of lived in a paranoid state of mind because we were always concerned about safety.
Rafael: We chose Canada after we did our research. It wasn’t at the top of my mind, I never even considered to visit Canada, but when Olivia was born in 2013, we started to research the best places to raise a child and Canada was always at the top of the lists. And we decided on Toronto because Toronto is very similar to Sao Paulo in terms of [being a] concrete jungle, having startups, and the environment we were used to.
What’s the best part about Canada?
Rafael: It’s a very welcoming place. And it’s a fair country. Although taxes are higher, you don’t have to pay for healthcare, or schools. In Brazil, you have to pay everything.
Renata: I think it’s so amazing that you can hear so many languages. And everyone is really really kind with us. Even in the beginning when our English was worse and we were struggling to communicate, everyone was like, “No, you’re amazing. You’re trying!” Everyone is really helpful. We were also so amazed how educated people are here, even the young people.
Rafael: People are kind. When we say people are very kind, even immigrants, not just Canadians. I think Canada has this effect on immigrants. When they come here, they act different. It’s the environment. I think this environment makes everyone a better person.
Software Engineer @ Diligen
“The one lesson I learned from being here was to be more accepting of other cultures and backgrounds.”
Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan
Moved here: September 2011
Why: I moved to Waterloo for studies. I came as an international student for my undergrad at University of Waterloo.
It was your first time in Canada. What did you initially think of it? My first impression was that is was really clean. The roads are good and you have 24/7 electricity.
Favourite part about Canada? The diversity. Coming from Pakistan where you only see Pakistanis and you rarely see any other person from any other country. Over here, it’s from all over the world. People from Asia, people from Europe, there’s people from South America. It’s just amazing. So many different people. You get to spend time with them, you get to learn about them. It just broadens your mind. You get out of this small world where you were.
Software Engineer @ Law Scout
“If someone says they are Canadian, they feel like family.”
Hometown: Sichuan, China
Moved here: August 2009
Why: I was moving here for university. I attended University of Waterloo.
What made you want to stay in Canada after graduating? The skill sets are more advanced here. Everything is very fresh and I have a lot of freedom. I can get things in my hand quickly.
Favourite part: I really enjoy the mixed cultures. People are welcoming of different backgrounds. Canadians are very patient. I know I have an accent and sometimes I cannot express myself well, but they are very patient when trying to understand me. It makes me feel like home here. I am happy and Canadians are very helpful.
What does Canadian mean to you? If I meet someone thats Canadian, it will be easy to start a conversation with them. I will immediately know they are friendly and I can approach them.