What do I love most about being here? I feel safe and I know my son will thrive here. I love that I live in a small town where there’s a sense of community and people look out for each other.
Anusha Arulnanthi - Programming Coordinator Pembroke Public Library
My name is Anusha, and this is my story.
My Canadian husband and I met in Malaysia, which is where I’m from. After a few years, we moved to Azerbaijan. During that time, I got pregnant and we had a beautiful little boy. Once he turned a year old, we decided it was best to settle down and that it was time for my husband to return home. So we made our way to Canada in 2017.
The first couple of years went by quickly, but it was also very difficult. Though it was lovely to experience a new country and be around my in-laws, I still had to adjust to lots of things. We lived in a small one-bedroom apartment, and we were nowhere close to town. Everything seemed pretty far away.
A year after moving here, we moved to Pembroke. I started taking my then 2-year-old to the Early Years Centre. I started making little connections with some of the mums I met. However, it was still tough. As a Malaysian, I’m used to hospitality and befriending people easily. I haven’t faced any issues with language barriers as I’m very fluent in English. I’d assumed I’d fit in quickly because I’ve travelled a lot and also spent some time as a student in England, which were some of the best years of my life. I’d assumed it would be easy because of how friendly Canadians are. Yet, I felt like a nerdy 16-year-old who was trying to fit in with the ‘popular’ crowd.
This was strange to me, as I’d never been one to feel insecure about making new friends. It took some work, but now I’m proud to say that I have a small circle of friends whom I know I can count on. In 2019, I applied to work part-time at Pembroke Public Library, and ‘before I knew it, an opportunity arose and I applied for the Programming and Outreach position. The job is challenging, but I love it because it’s enabled me to get to know the community of Pembroke better.
Does it mean that life is now easier because I have a full-time job, a house, and stability? The pandemic threw a major curveball which prevented me from travelling home to see my loved ones. It’s been 5 years since I’ve seen them. Can you imagine not seeing any of your family members or closest friends for that long? Just picture it for a moment. There are times where my optimistic ‘always look at the glass as half full,’ is drained to ‘the glass is totally empty.’
Many people fail to understand the sacrifices immigrants make when they move away from home. I had a fabulous life in Malaysia: great job, great pay, lots of travel, stability, family support…I ask myself, why did I give all of that up?
I did it because there are lots of marvelous qualities about this country that I now call home. I did it because I wanted my son to have a better education. I did it because it’s a relief to live in a country with a more stable political climate. I did it because I like how open-minded most Canadians are. I did it because I love the nature out here and the wide-open space, though I could do without the freezing temperatures. The list goes on.
Another sacrifice that immigrants often have to make is knowing that their children may not be able to fully immerse themselves in their own traditional culture. My son will never really learn much about Malaysian-Indian culture, no matter how much I talk to him about it. But that’s ok. As long as he grows up to be a good Canadian citizen, with an understanding of the world and other cultures, I’ll be happy.
What do I love most about being here? I feel safe and I know my son will thrive here. I love that I live in a small town where there’s a sense of community and people look out for each other. I love that I can say hi and smile to strangers in the street.
Before I know it, 20 years will have passed and I will feel the same about my connection with friends here as I do with friends back home. All in all, I’m very fortunate that things fell into place fairly quickly for my family, and I hope it’ll be the same for all families that choose to migrate to Canada. Although it can be a difficult adjustment, it can and will always be made easier thanks to the lovely people of Canada.