New year, new life
Maksim and his family arrived in Winnipeg on December 31, 2015. Together with his wife Anna Antipeva (who was then seven-months pregnant) and their son Ilia, they ushered in the New Year at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson. “We asked for some food to celebrate the New Year, and I remember that we had pizza!” Maksim remembers. Their arrival to the city was a culmination of a five-year process which began in Vladivostok, Russia.
Long journey to Manitoba
Maksim began their immigration journey in late 2011 when they decided that moving to Canada would assure better opportunities for his future kids. Immigration consultants from Dalvisa Vladivostok, Russia helped him with the application process and other documents. To prepare for his application, Maksim and Anna began to learn English with their Russian teacher Natalia Viktorovna, and in 2012 went to the Philippines (Adamson University, Manila) to continue studying English. After two months, Maksim took the IELTS test there. He then applied to the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) and the following year (2013), came to Winnipeg on an exploratory visit.
Maksim remembers that his 10-day stay in Winnipeg was stressful because he didn’t know anybody in the city. But in spite of this, he was happy when the MPNP officer gave him an invitation to apply after the interview. It took an additional two years before Maksim and his family could move to Winnipeg. In the first year, the letter of approval somehow got lost and was not delivered to Russia. Maksim had to email MPNP to ask about his status. Still, it was his son and his wife’s new pregnancy which sustained his resolve to move to Canada. With the arrival of their Canadian visas, Maksim could only exclaim, “thank you to the Manitoba Government, for giving my family a chance for a good future!”
Maksim remembers that when they arrived in Winnipeg, it was the kindness of strangers that saw them through their first days. “The landlord of the apartment (Dave) accepted us despite not having references nor a job. We were able to move to our new home after staying five days at the hotel,” Maksim said. Soon after moving to the apartment, they became acquainted with a neighbor, who, together with her church friends, gave them household items, such as cups, plates, and cutlery. This signaled an auspicious beginning for the young family.
“In my first few days, nobody could tell me the equivalent of my profession and education here in Winnipeg,” Maksim laments. It was only when he started his sessions with his English Online e-tutor, Augusta Avram that he was able to create a profile and structured online Canadian resume on LinkedIn. “She helped me understand what kind of education I have in Canadian terms, since she had a similar educational system in her country,” Maksim said. During the session with Augusta, Maksim discovered that he had the qualification and skills that can be used not only for Financial or Business Analyst positions, but also for a specialist in the real estate industry. He also learned about Canadian collocations, the meaning of networking, using online tools like LinkedIn and Twitter, and educational resources (Tutoring online) from his e-tutor.
Maksim was actually paired with Augusta for English language training but learned so much more. Previously, he was taking classes at MITT, but because the school was far from his house, Maksim felt that it was not an efficient use of his time. When someone suggested taking online classes with English Online, he tried it and saw that it fit his needs. Aside from saving time (and parking fees), he appreciated the one-on-one instruction. “I liked that I get to talk directly to my teacher. She helped me improve my English faster,” Maksim said.
Another career hurdle for Maksim was learning how to market himself. When he started applying for jobs, it was hard for him to highlight his achievements because it felt like boasting. A highly principled person, Maksim learned that it is important to show your abilities and achievements, but it is equally as important to keep your integrity and honesty.
Canadian Tire, Sears and Safe Way
During his first few days in Winnipeg, Maksim remembers that he did not know where to buy basic necessities. This was mainly because, he says, the names of establishments are not self-evident. “I was confused about Canadian Tire, Sears, and Safe Way. Also, I have been passing by Safe Way and Dollarama near my house but I never knew that they sold food and useful items”, he said. “If you are not familiar with these Canadian brands, you should learn about them before you arrive.”
This is why he underlines the importance of planning and preparation for immigrants. “Take pre-arrival courses, CIIP for example, if possible, six months to one year before leaving for Canada”, Maksim said. He further advises pre-arrivals to create a personal settlement plan. “Researching and writing what you need to do when you arrive, where to settle, and which government agencies to go to before you arrive will help keep you on track. Whatever you write down in your plan, you accomplish. Plus, you have to create your budget, set your financial goals, and monitor what you spend every two weeks,“ he said.
Among the first things Maksim advises newcomers when they arrive is to get a car and a licence. He says that it can be difficult to obtain a license because of the strict rules and the fact that they are different from other countries’ rules. However, “driving a car helps you to be mobile and flexible, which is why it can be an advantage when you are applying for a job,” he said. Also, finding a church, according to him, helps in maintaining a positive outlook. “Back in Russia, I did not go to church regularly. But in Winnipeg, I find that it keeps me anchored in my faith and it reduces stress,” he said.
“One more thing is the government’s great opportunities for our children like child care (with chance to have child subsidy), free school education, Air Cadets, church camps, savings plans for high education, and others. They also extend a lot of support to newcomers while they are establishing themselves, like free English training, employment training, rent assist, career development aid from the Manitoba government, the Winnipeg Harvest food bank, and others. I encourage newcomers to apply for them. I especially appreciate the free health services – my daughter was born at St. Boniface hospital – one of the best hospitals in Canada. I have a lot of respect for the government.”
Nowadays, Maksim’s positivity is starting to bear fruit. The day before I spoke to him, he was hired as a Portfolio Administrator at S.A.M. Management. He relates that during the interview, the employer gave greater focus on learning about his character and principles. Something that was perfect for Maksim, who early on felt awkward about marketing himself to employers. He expressed that he is anxious to learn the ropes of his new job, his enthusiasm showing through. Things are looking up for the hardworking young dad.
When asked if he would recommend immigrating to Manitoba to his friends, Maksim was thoughtful about his answer. “It can be hard to find a job in Manitoba because you have to get used to things like making a specific resume format, networking, self-marketing, and online application (which can be slow). But if you feel that you are up to the challenge, then this province is for you. I would say that among the best things about Manitoba is its wonderful environment: the clean streets, animals (squirrels, rabbits), parks in five minutes, open pools, playgrounds for children, good highways, and beautiful lakes. I also like that it has high quality goods and very delicious and soft meat (pork, beef, and chicken). One more thing is the government’s great opportunities for our children like child care (with chance to have child subsidy), free school education, Air Cadets, church camps, savings plans for high education, and others. They also extend a lot of support to newcomers while they are establishing themselves, like free English training, employment training, rent assist, career development aid from the Manitoba government, the Winnipeg Harvest food bank, and others. I encourage newcomers to apply for them. I especially appreciate the free health services – my daughter was born at St. Boniface hospital – one of the best hospitals in Canada. I have a lot of respect for the government,” Maksim said.
Maksim would like to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful people who helped him and his family settle in their new home. According to Maksim, “find new friends, choose right way for the future.”
- Silvija Ulmanis (UK/Gulf Office Canadian Immigrant Integration Programme)
- Sasha Chernakov and Anna Shusterman (first acquaintances)
- Shai and Elena Goren, Olga, Andrey (Manitobans who helped with his car and driving)
- Darya and Mikhail Koval, Sasha and Ira Loginov (Russian friends who brought us to Slavic Church)
- Carla and Chris Kleinsasser, John and Margaret (neighbors, Spring’s church)
- Anna Murray (Neighbourhood Immigrant Settlement Worker Elmwood Community Resource Centre)
- Victor and Natalia Mogourian, Sasha and Hadya Nezvesciuc (Slavic Church)
- Corinne Bergenon, Reg, Shanshan (Spring’s church)
- Jennifer Stadtmiller (WELARC)
- Yulia Savchuk (Entry Program)
- Tatiana Nedelko and Erum Imran (English Online)
- Augusta Avram (English Online e-Tutor)
- Lianne Tetlock, and Nelia Martins (Manitoba Government)
- Rany Jeyaratnam, Ha Nguyen, Saima Arshad, Cicely Valel (Success Skills Centre)
- Liz and Kirk Burcar (New Flyer)
- Edward Rodzen (Lindex Properties)
- Sergiy Prymachok (Bison Transport)
- Eleonora Margolin (Happiness Is… Inc. Child Care Centre)
- Susan Fehr and Kevin Tousignant (S.A.M. Management Inc.)