Immigrant Olubukola Abdul urges newcomers to arrive prepared with Planning for Canada
Olubukola Abdul, who moved from Nigeria to Canada with her family in December 2019, is grateful for the career, settlement and education support she received during Planning for Canada’s sessions, especially the answers she received to questions about her kids’ schooling. “I had a very rich experience and Planning for Canada’s pre-arrival services covered mostly everything that I wanted to ask about Canada,” she says. If there’s one thing she advises newcomers, it’s to arrive prepared!
Country of origin: Nigeria
Immigrated to Canada in: December 2019
Currently lives in: Calgary, Alberta
Occupation: Tax Accountant
Read our chat with Olubukola about her immigration and settlement journey in Canada.
Why did you decide to immigrate to Canada?
Immigrating to Canada was never on our minds. My husband and I were doing well in Nigeria and were happy, too. It was only after we had kids that we started thinking about their future, security, education, etc. We tried for Australia and then Canada. And after many months, it all worked out.
What do you like about Canada? Is there also something you dislike?
I appreciate how systems are in place for everything in Canada. There are resources and services available for anything one might need help with. Even during the pandemic, there has been support and benefits from the government for its people and those who may have been laid off or are impacted severely. I also appreciate the health-care, and the education system, the children are taught to be independent and think and question like adults.
When did you avail of Planning for Canada’s (PfC) pre-arrival services? Was the time that you had enough to absorb all the information?
Ours was a DIY immigration. We didn’t use the services of a consultant. So, I did a lot of research online about Canada and life here. I read a lot of information and people’s discussions on forums. Someone there suggested that I check out Planning for Canada’s services, as they prepare you well. So, I reached out to them quite early, even before I got my visa to Canada. They told me I would have to wait till that step gets completed. So, as soon as I got my visa, around October 2019, I contacted them again and attended their sessions online.
What was Planning for Canada’s role in your immigration preparation?
My husband and I got personalized advice directly from a person from their team who took the time to understand our requirements and answer all our questions. At the end of the session, they connected us to CCIS (Calgary Catholic Immigration Society) Alberta, which then assisted us with all our concerns about our destination.
How did these services assist you in your settlement and integration journey in Canada?
I had a very rich experience and Planning for Canada’s (PfC) pre-arrival services covered mostly everything that I wanted to ask about Canada. I have three children, so my priority was to figure out their schooling. I did extensive research about schools, their locations and rankings. But what I learned during the PfC sessions was that you attend a school based on the neighbourhood you’re living in. And since my kids’ education is a priority for us, we shortlisted schools first and then began house hunting in those communities. So, that really gave us clarity and saved us time and the trouble of searching all over the map. Besides education and settlement, I also learned about associations and bridging programs that I could join. Some of my classmates are from Nigeria, Brazil, Nepal, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, China… I got a community instantly that I could call my own. I also learned so much about taxation and workplace communication. All that helps me serve my clients better today.
Did you face any specific challenges after you landed in Canada?
We had time till February to move to Canada. I’m glad we immigrated in December because February would have been too cold. Also, it was just after a few months of us moving to Canada that the pandemic arrived here, and is still continuing. For any doubts, I kept going back to the documents and Action Plan that PfC had shared with us. So, all the information is still coming in handy to navigate the system, from career support to getting a driver’s license. Just recently, I discovered resources in it to learn French for free. I had missed that earlier.
Please tell us about your employment journey in Canada.
I’m working with a CPA firm as part of my practical work experience for the bridging program, Canadian Business Essentials for Accountants, that I had signed up for at the Centre for Newcomers. I’ve been preparing taxes, assisting in bookkeeping and tax accounting, and working towards my CPA designation. I’m also considering studying tax law here.
Any tips or learnings that you’d like to share with future immigrants?
What I would urge other immigrants to do is to arrive prepared and seek help from pre-arrival services such as Planning for Canada. Most of all, come to Canada with an open mind. Leave aside all the expectations and live the experience here.
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* Planning for Canada, funded by Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada, provides pre-arrival services to economic and family-class immigrants before coming to Canada. For more information and to register, visit www.planningforcanada.ca.