“At the event, I had a clear understanding I am not alone in this: there is a whole community willing to embrace and help each other.”
I am originally from Brazil. I moved to Canada in 2016 without having a clue what the future would be like in a new culture. Ten months after my landing and after two unsuccessful job interviews, I got my first job in Canada. Despite my happiness and excitement about being accepted, and – of course – for being able to support myself financially, I felt that something was still missing: I needed time to absorb what was around me in order to gradually fit in. It is well-known that to learn a new language you must immerse yourself in it, but it can be tougher for some people, and it was for me. I needed time to make sense of all the different cultural nuances I was facing, but, unfortunately, I was not able to acknowledge it at that time. I wonder how many people give up on their dreams because they do not understand that everyone has his/her own pace. Even though I grow up in a western country, language was not my only barrier. That is why I have the utmost respect for those who had to struggle with greater cultural gaps.
Things only started to happen for me when I decided to cut loose and face the challenges with more weightlessness. I opened my heart to the new experiences and people I was going to meet and to all eventual misfortunes that would occur. After all, we are exposed to frustrations and disappointments within and outside our home country, not only overseas. Indeed, unfortunately, the language barrier makes things more difficult. That is why I am so glad to have volunteered at the Welcome Day Celebration for Immigrants and Refugees. At the event, I met many people living in the same situation as me; therefore, I had a clear understanding I am not alone in this: there is a whole community willing to embrace and help each other. I got the feeling we were all in the same boat, but a boat that will take us to a better place; and big enough to always have more newcomers on board.
The Welcome Day Celebration for Immigrants and Refugees event was an invaluable opportunity for me to get to know the most interesting people, to collaborate as a photographer, and participate in the fashion show as a model. On this day, I learned some basic but essentials things about the particularities of Victoria, such as the need to always having a business card with you. Furthermore, that afternoon I met Daniela, also from Brazil, and a kind soul who confirmed for me that here, what you have done – your talents and skills – are the most valuable things if you want to succeed. I listened to her and here I am, showing the world one of the things I can do better: writing.
Having the chance to present myself as a journalist and photographer to the Here Magazine team was also a game-changer because, since I am still waiting for my Permanent Residency Card, I am not allowed to work formally, yet. Thus, having the opportunity to write for such a sensitive and thoughtful magazine inspired me to follow through and made me feel comfortable sharing my experience with the whole immigrant community. At the event I also met Kenneth Kamero, the Victoria Eco Fashion Week organizer, who resettled in Victoria from Kenya just over a year ago. It was very interesting because, a few days before, my friend and partner Valéria Coelho had coincidentally already contacted him, so to meet him in person spontaneously was fantastic. This networking later led us to become part of the Victoria Eco Fashion Week team, a project I totally believe in and I am proud to collaborate with.
I am certain that this opportunity will give me the confidence I need to throw myself into the workforce when I receive my PR card. Moreover, I hope my words can bring some comfort to others in the same situation and give peace of mind to those who appear concerned about all the cultural challenges we, immigrants, are exposed to.