The very first day I landed as an immigrant in Canada, the Border Services agent looked at me and said, “Welcome home”. I was touched. Less than a year after I arrived in Vancouver, I started to feel not only like I belonged here, but also that I was genuinely welcomed – a feeling I never had in all 8 years of living in the United States.
After finishing my master’s degree, my partner and I wanted to start a business. But, the probability of getting a work visa for the United States was a slim one. Because of this, we decided to pick up and move to Canada where we were granted Permanent Residence Cards in less than a year.
I have to say that this is a pretty smart move on Canada’s part. The U.S. educated us in business smarts, the North American lifestyle, and scanned us from top to the bottom. They even granted us H1 Work Visas. But, despite all that, they didn’t see the need to allow us future opportunity to stay.
On the other hand, Canada welcomed us with open arms. Six years down the road, we’re running a multimillion dollar company, and provide full-time employment to more than 20 people in Vancouver. Today, we’re one of the fastest growing companies in BC, and we’re only moving up from here.
All this happened because Canada let us make it happen.
Anyways – this post isn’t meant to be about business; it’s meant to be about Canada. In other words, the best place in the entire world. Why do I love it here so much? Well, there are plenty of reasons.
The Entire World in One Single Place
It’s not uncommon to find yourself in the midst of a group of people from 4+ different countries. It’s like having the entire world in your backyard! Sharing lives all together and coming from different parts of the world at the same time is an experience that you just can’t buy. Currently, we have 18 different nationalities in our office. There are 25 of us.
People Love to Give Back
People feel responsible for the success of our community, society, and the country as a whole. They get involved in social movements, politics, and voluntary work. In other words, there’s a strong culture of giving back to the society. For example, the entire community came together to help clean up the city the day after the huge Vancouver riots in 2012.
People Make Friends With the “Enemies”
The “enemy” based on ethnicity doesn’t exist here. It doesn’t matter if you are muslim, jewish, catholic, buddhist, or so on. Everyone sees you as human first. I remember meeting a Pakistani guy when I first moved here. He said, “My best friend here is Jewish. I could have been killed for that back home.” In other words, the atmosphere of inclusion is strong here; you aren’t judged right off the bat because of where you’re from.
Sea Meets the Mountain
This is the view I see every day when walking to work; I’ll never get bored of it!
The Lush and Clean Environment
The government cares about the environment, and people care as well. In a world that has been shocked over and over again by Donald Trump’s nonchalant attitude to environmental conservation, this theme seems more important than ever. Vancouver plans to be the greenest city in the world by 2020, and it’s moving forward with radical steps to make it happen. A well looked after and sustainable environment is clearly a priority.
Immigration is Embedded in Canadian Culture
Meeting true born-and-raised Vancouverites is kind of a rare occasion; there are just so many people who come to live, work, and play here from around the globe. So whenever I meet one, I’m super excited. What’s interesting is that all of them remember being surrounded by foreigners ever since they were very young. Being raised in such a multicultural environment means the people here are not only understanding of cultural differences, but also accepting of them. Seeing people from all around the world as you walk down the street is natural and normal here.
Not only that, but Canada also provides a lot of opportunity for educated foreigners (like Emre and I) to come and start a life here. It’s a tremendous advantage for businesses to have access to of all this new talent.
New arrivals to Vancouver not only bring their culture, but also their amazing food! All throughout the city, you can find authentic Japanese food, Mongolian food, Turkish food, Indian food, Malaysian food, and much more. Food from your home country makes a big difference in making you feel welcome; it also helps a lot with homesickness! With a great meal, you can bond with your co-workers, close a business deal, or simply have a blast with friends.
Canadian Government Supports Small Business
I can’t say that we have used much of the support that we could be using for Globalme, but we do use some. For example, lower taxes for small businesses, financial support for hiring new grads, and extra funding for continuous education. These are just some of the great support systems in place to help small business growth.
The List Could go on Forever
I could keep going and going; the list of what I love about Canada is long. I agree that there are many things that Canada could do to be better. But, let’s not take what we have for granted. Canada is one of the best places to live in the world.
At #BCTech Summit last month, I was listening to B.C.’s very own Premier, Christy Clark, talk about plans that the local government has in mind to make life better here; for technological growth, continuing and revamping their open door policy to foreigners, boosting small businesses, and educating students in innovation. The topics felt close to my heart. In that moment, I felt truly Canadian.
Note: See the original post of ‘Why I Love Canada’ on Hanna’s LinkedIn Pulse. Or, read her article about How to Create and Maintain a Healthy Work Culture (and Why It’s The Most Important Investment You’ll Make).