“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”
–John D. Rockefeller
I landed in Vancouver on a grey March day – it was spring, yet the air was making my bones turn cold and I yearned for some sun to warm my face. Canada – said the airport and everywhere I looked, but it did not feel like home to me.
That cold grey day in March in 1996, I took the decision to end my stay in Vancouver and to give Toronto a chance. When I landed at Pearson, I felt the sun warm my face, my blood and my whole being and my face broke into a huge smile. I have never looked back after that.
Canada promised to be the land of opportunity, freedom and multiculturalism – and it has kept its promise in all the 22 years I have spent here.
Before coming here I lived in Dubai for 15 years. I was at the peak of my career there, but it never felt like it could be my home forever. I also felt I did not get equal opportunity there as a woman. I had some dreams, to have my own family in a country that would open its arms and accept me. Canada offered me all of this and so I re-started my life here.
In the beginning my time was spent in learning the “Canadian way of life” or what I like to call “falling in line” – driving within the lanes, following the rules, learning the differences in culture and environment, using different words and so I quickly adjusted.
I remember I was astounded when looking for a job – at each step I was asked if I had Canadian experience. My first response was “How can they ask for Canadian experience – I have just come to Canada and I need to start somewhere”. I solved that by volunteering for World Vision, and for my local church. Volunteering gave me a start into professional life here.
Isolation is really the only issue in the beginning; connecting with people, making new friends, having no relatives, nobody to talk to takes a toll on you. I was offered to stay at the house of the mother of the agency owner who had processed my papers. Her mom was a lovely person and we both needed each other’s company. She was an elderly woman and I reciprocated with loving care like her own daughter. She was from Goa, India and in this foreign land I found a mother who was neither from my country nor from my religion – we did not eat the same food, we did not share the same festivals, but here we were living with each other, providing each other support and comfort, and being there for each other – that in true essence is Canada for everyone.
While volunteering I also built closed knit relationships with other church goers – these are the ties that we develop when we live away from family. These are all the people who were the guests at my wedding when I got married in Canada soon after I came here – they became my extended family. Canada also gave me and my husband the chance to get married as we belong to different countries – but through Canada we now are from the same place, share the same values, and above all share our love with each other.
I want to tell people that there are lots of people looking for a friend – show interest in other people, let people help you and in turn help them and you can build great friendships.
The best day of my life was a day in 1999 – I was counting the days until I completed my 3 years. At that point my baby was also 3 years old. I really wanted my family to be there with me that day. Luckily, just a week before I had also found a good job very close to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Office in Mississauga.
Before I started, I informed the office that I would be late on my first day as I had to go for my oath taking ceremony. While I was sitting at the ceremony I saw 20 people arrive along with my daughter to root for me. My daughter ran to me – it was the happiest moment of my life. I had the biggest crowd ever at the oath taking ceremony.
After that I went to work – a colleague came over and asked if I knew how to fix the coffee machine. I went along with her to the kitchen and there my new boss had gathered together a small party to celebrate my new citizenship. They had a cake and they sang “for she’s a jolly good fellow” – my boss said “congrats you are Canadian now”. That moment was and will always remain so precious to me.
The freedom that you enjoy in Canada makes life different than any other country in the world. Anything that I had ever thought of doing, I have achieved it over here – I have been published, I have started and sustained successful businesses, I have won so many awards and I have found great friends and community. I have a daughter in Brock University and a son in Grade 11 who make me proud every day.
This is your home, make yourself belong here, you chose this place so think of this as your home, your better home. There are opportunities waiting for you, find them. This is your chance for a change, love Canada and Canada will give you all that love and more back.
“Don’t be afraid to start over, this is an opportunity for a new life!
Be creative. Belong!” – Rosanna Penilla-Bharucha
Rosanna Penilla-Bharucha is a Creative Business Coach, Publisher, Philanthropist, Founder of Boomerpreneurs Network and Absolutely Fabulous Women Over 40 (AFW 40/40). Rosanna believes in forming relationships and contributing to society by helping others prosper. Read about all the awards Rosanna has won in Canada; you can do the same.
- Women’s Courage Award in Advocacy – 2013
- Rise to Radiate Award – New Business 2014
- Citations published by:
- October 2013: Judy A. Sgro- Member of the Parliament, York West for recognition of Advocacy for Seniors
- March 2017: Iqra Khalid- Member of Parliament for Mississauga Erin Mills for hosting the Women of Diversity – Their Stories Then & Now for Canada 150
- January 2014: Brad Butt- Member of Parliament for Mississauga Streetsville for hosting the Boomers of Peel Annual Event
- January 2014: Ron Starr- Councillor City of Mississauga for hosting the Boomers in Peel
- January 2014: Bonnie Crombie – Ward 5 Councillor City of Mississauga for Leadership as a Founder of the Boomers in Peel
- September 2014: Mario Sergio, Ontario Minister for Seniors Affairs for hosting Golden Years Expo
- 2017: Certificate of Achievement as a Passages Canada Speaker- Government of Canada
- 2015-2017: Certificate of Recognition in Leadership as a Founder of the Absolutely Fabulous Women to celebrate International Women’s Day
Connect with Rosanna:
Your New Mom BFF!!! I am a regular mom but I choose to live my life to the fullest in high heels and fiery red lipstick. I want to share everything I have learnt (and I have learnt a lot) about skin, beauty, food, health and LIFE – Lets just say I know what's the secret to glowing skin and how your night cream can get you there - and how you can get a flat tummy after 3 kids from my years of working on top brands as a marketing manager. Hope to see more of you!