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!Welcome to a new country, a new year, and a new you



By Vicki Brookes

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2018 brings peace, prosperity, good health, and for those who are looking, a new career.

The New Year is a time for reflection and often with that reflection, a strong desire for personal growth and change. While personal growth and change are challenging, we realize that we need to make these changes in order to be a better person and to better adapt to our new surroundings.  As the famous country music singer Jimmy Buffet said, “Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same.” The same is true with our approach to being in a new country, adapting to a new culture, and finding new work.

If I had to give any newcomer advice on their job search, I would say make sure you learn to adapt to your new surroundings. Living in Canada is not easy; the transition to a different culture, climate, language and professional expectations is extremely challenging. You have so many hurdles to jump and barriers to conquer. Navigating these strange cultural waters while trying to prepare your children for school and getting ready for work is really a test of your inner strength. Having said that, living in Canada is incredibly rewarding; there is diversity, understanding, laws that benefit all, freedom and peace. It is a beautiful country populated by people from all over the world, however, you have to learn to adapt and you have to want to embrace the changes in order to reap the benefits. If you do, I promise, your life will be successful in your new country.

The wonderful thing about Canada is that there are many resources in place to help newly-arrived immigrants. Many years ago, when my family was settling from Eastern Europe, the city of Toronto had few things in place to assist newcomers. Those early settling immigrants forged ahead embracing all their new country and city had to offer despite a lack of assistance. These people established businesses, they worked at low-paying jobs, they bought homes, they started communities with places of worship, and they raised families. The city of Toronto is peppered by many wonderful communities which is a strong indication of the settlement process:  Little Italy, Greektown, Little India, Chinatown, Koreatown, Portugal Village, Little Poland, and Little Malta are just a few of the communities that makes Toronto so unique. In many cases, these neighbourhoods and communities were established with little or no assistance from governmentally-sponsored settlement agencies.

Today, it is an entirely different story. There are so many places that can offer newcomers assistance! Look into organizations that are geared towards specifically settling immigrants for assistance. Try to remember that you are not alone! These organizations have language classes, groups for seniors and youth, settlement adaptation programs, business start-up courses, translation and legal services. For the most part, for those who qualify, the services are all free.

There are organizations that assist you with your credential evaluation. World Education Services, ICAS, and the University of Toronto’s Comparative Education Services will work with you to make sure your documents are at the level they need to be to find work or pursue education.

Use the National Occupation Classification system to research what employers want. Research the Conference Board of Canada for information about job search. Find out through country-wide surveys, what Canadian employers want most from their employees.

There are bridging programs that are designed to ease the transition back to education for Internationally Trained Professionals (ITPs) into the workplace. Check out any university or community college for more information.

For those ITPs who have a very high level of English language skills, look for Enhanced Language Training (ELT) courses. These courses are offered at several settlement agencies throughout the GTA and usually attach an unpaid internship at a reputable organization within your professional field of interest. In most cases, those internships lead to full-time paid employment.

On a personal level, learn what makes Canadians tick! Google Canadian Idioms and start incorporating this crazy “new” language into your lexicon because the last thing you want is to be on the “outside looking in” for the rest of your life. Adapting and adopting these language changes brings you closer to your goal of fitting in.

Find out what Canadians are talking about. This is as easy as reading online web-papers from the CBC ( and Toronto Star ( There are articles about current events on every single imaginable topic and the nicest thing…they’re free!

Find out how to look for work and learn how to interview. You will see that it’s very different from your previous country. Learn how to tell stories to answer behavioural questions.

Try a physical makeover! There are organizations such as Dress for Success and Dress Your Best that provide appropriate women’s and men’s business clothing at very low prices.

In the future, this section of The Migrant will focus on job search and interviewing tips, the importance of all forms of communication and everything you need to help you adapt, adopt and embrace your new country. I look forward to working with you!

Tip of the Day:

The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings. ~ Kakuzo Okakaura

Vicki has spent the past 20 years coaching and working with internationally trained professionals and helping them transition their skills into the Canadian workforce. She has created and taught curriculum that includes relevant skills training for newcomers. She currently teaches the Labour Market Access for Newcomers to Canada program at the Newcomer Centre of Peel in addition to the Workplace Communication in Canada program at Ryerson University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Bachelor of Education, and a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics and is TESL certified.

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John F Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise



جيم استيل يكتب لـ " المهاجر" : 24 خطوة بسيطة من أجل تسهيل عملية بيع منتجاتك

Jim Estill

I recently attended a board meeting of John F Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise.  The topic centred around what sorts of things should a school such as that do.

And of course there was a lively debate about entrepreneurship – one of my favourite topics.

I believe television has created the myth that business ideas are mostly inventions.  In reality, most money is made in business by people doing the same boring thing as every other boring business.  Look around your city – who are the business people – the coffee shop owner, the landlord, the car sales place, the mini storage, the dry cleaner, the jeweller, the lawn care person,  etc etc.  Unlike Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den – business is mostly NOT big invention – it is micro-refinements and good implementation (and hard work) of a boring business.

Entrepreneurship is also mislabeled.  An entrepreneur should be willing to risk their time and money – by definition.  What I see is people who say they are entrepreneurs want other people to risk their money so the “entrepreneur” can get paid a salary.   Those same entrepreneurs want to retain most of the upside.

I also see businesses raising money when they should not – they should just be profitable and grow from those profits.  Bootstrapping makes a company strong.   Service companies particularly should not raise money.

I talk a bit about bootstrapping in my Ted Talk.

Perhaps I am just jealous because I had to bootstrap my business and no one paid me a salary.

The source:

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Retailers vanishing in Toronto



The Migrant:The last seven years has seen a roller coaster within the retail industry both in Canada and worldwide. On one hand we had businesses exiting retail, such as Target which acquired Zellers and then exited Canada due to declining revenues, and Sears that was a go-to place for Canadians across generations, and on another spectrum, successful Canadian household names such as Hudson Bay & Tim Hortons being acquired by International investors.

In anticipation of such an inevitable fate, several companies set out to reduce their footprint, postponed or modified their expansion plans, and set up electronic platforms to support their sales to keep up with the global market, escalating the demand for storage space.

Conversely, more than 50 major companies opened their stores in Canada during the same period in the field of clothing or eyeglasses and most were associated with high-end or new products to the Canadian soil such as Nordstrom, Miniso and Richard Mille. While other companies thrived and expanded such as Canada Goose, in addition to numerous Canadian start-ups that spread globally but with an adoption to an innovative modus operandi, such as Freshii and Frank & Oak. Reasons may vary, and some may argue that this is business as usual, but rather accelerated.

Toronto market, which has seen a paradigm shift in a positive direction, due to an influx of distinguished and experienced entrepreneurs. New stores opening their doors, especially in the domain of ​​food and cafes, that led to greater competition and perhaps better variety and quality for the communities, notably, the middle eastern. These market dynamics, if anything; are in sync with the global market.

Opportunities exist and created a negotiating environment between landlords and new retailers. The Canadian economy remains robust, yet we repeatedly observe retailers going belly up and capitals evaporating in thin air and ultimately those investors are losing faith in the Canadian economy. The key reasons impeding the success of new retail ventures are:

 1.         Systemic reasons: The global economy, of which Canada is a part, is not at its best and adversely affects the purchasing power. According to retail analysts, many global retailers reduced their footprint due to decline in sales volume.

 2.         Change in the retail landscape:  As the online shopping experience continues to improve, and retailers increasingly moving into the retail 3.0, consumers, more so the millennial, focus on convenience and product accessibility. Today’s prudent retailers combine brick-and-mortar stores with e-stores to increase sales volume. In addition, some companies break the mold by going online first and then expanding through physical storefronts.

 3.         Local experience: Last but not the least is the local experience, one of the key factors underpinning the success or failure of any business. Challenges and pitfalls can be mitigated by conducting feasibility studies that would typically analyze the demographics, products, financial projections, and site selection, zooming in on the occupancy cost being a key item in the operating costs that could eat up the bottom-line and push business into the red. 

Veteran investors are more likely to be aware of the key challenges in starting new business, but don’t have clear understanding of how the local experience combined with language barriers make it difficult to access key resources and to shore up a sound business plan.

Many investors have taken a gambit by overlooking this key step and started their business based on market canvassing, tell-tales and emotional decisions, that in many instances led to losses, business closure, bankruptcy or business still operating at a loss.

 In a nutshell, the most pressing question: Is it time to move a motion to support those vulnerable businesses and explore ways to integrate them into the retail space and probably attract and encourage more investors to enter the market with clear line of sight? 

By Sean Aslambouli

Business & Commercial Realty Consultant

Toronto, ON

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Abdelkader Bouaziz

Fredericton (NB), the silent Victorian




By Abdelkader Bouaziz

For the past three days, we have been talking about Fredericton where four people were shot dead, including two policemen. The shooting ended with the arrest of a suspect who is accused of four premeditated murders.  The city has never had to deal with something like this. I know it because I lived there for the last 3 years. It’s known with its peacefulness “atmosphere” and the legendary kindness of its residents.

Fredericton. The smallest “provincial capital” of Canada. I call it the silent Victorian, because there are many houses with a Victorian character and it inspires a feeling that imposes tranquility.

While strolling through the arteries of the city, it looks like we are in the 1800’s, where the structure of the houses makes us think of an open-air museum of Victorian houses. Its down-town exudes a singular charm and the Saint John River (that cross the city in north and south area) contributes to this peaceful feeling.

People are courteous, and they exchange a “good morning! … hello! … hi! …” every time they cross each other, in the street, in the supermarket, in the library, in the park,… and we can’t talk about the city without mentioning the City’s traditional market he Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market. Recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 community markets, it’s a Saturday morning (6am-1pm) gathering spot, for fresh and healthy foods, craft, creativity and most of all: a place of ritual meeting of its inhabitants who keep this tradition of long time.

There is rarely traffic jam during peak hours (no more than 10), the nature is abundant; Odell Park, the centrepiece of the city’s parklands and highly acclaimed by its citizen, takes up almost a quarter of the southern part of the city. Renowned as one of the most beautiful parks, of its kind in Canada. It contributes also to this feeling of a rural aspect within the city itself.

Numerous gatherings, weddings, graduation parties or other occasions have been organized in this beautiful place, and it has served as a backdrop to pictures shooting, in addition of being a great place to do family/friend picnic. We can walk there and feel the sights and sounds of the 4 seasons.

Fredericton residents are known for helping out when a major emergency or disaster occurs. Statistic Canada revealed that more than half (57%) of people who experienced an emergency received help during or immediately after the event. Family members (26%) and friends (17% were the most common sources of help.

Living in small city, having shorter commute times comparing to bigger cities, having smaller population densities, and living close to families, foster strong social ties and feelings of belonging. And that is what I felt when I used to live in Fredericton.

Our heart thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy and their families!


About the writer : Living in Canada for almost 15 years, originally from Morocco, spending all his childhood in France, Abdelkader is active in social-cultural life of immigrants, in Montreal QC, where he used to live for 3 years, then Ottawa ON for 6 years, then Fredericton NB 3 years and a half, before moving back to Ottawa. He contributes voluntarily with writings and stories that touch lives of immigrants in Canada. He wrote columns in immigration websites and answered interviews in a few blogs for expatriates.

Graduated from the National School of Public Administration of Quebec, with a master degree as International Analyst, he has a particular interest in immigration news, international student experiences, cultural activities and social media.

He discovered his passion for writing during his first years of immigration, when it became clear that sharing the daily life of an immigrant and telling stories, are how he will appease the struggling of a new life for an immigrant, in Canada.

His moto is ” Dream about your future, learn from the past, and live your present!”


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