On December 9, Ruby Alcala, her husband, and daughter took their oath of Canadian citizenship at the Immigrant Welcome Centre in Courtenay. It has been 12 years since Ruby first came to the Comox Valley from the Philippines in 2009 – on her own, leaving behind her husband and then 3-year-old – to work as a nanny.
Ruby was sponsored by her sister who had already settled in the Valley. “I wanted the best future for my family,” Ruby says.
It was five years before her husband and first child could join her in Canada (her second child, now five, was born here). “I have really great employers who are very supportive,” she says of her experience settling and working in the Valley. “The hardship for me was, really, I missed back home … I missed my husband and daughter.”
Throughout her journey, she says the Immigrant Welcome Centre (IWC) has been crucial to settling on Vancouver Island and helping her family join her. A friend recommended the organization, and she turned to the settlement staff for help with the documents and paperwork needed during her road to citizenship, including applying for permanent residency. Ruby says the staff were always willing to work around her schedule – during some periods, she held two or three jobs and often worked overtime. Today, she works as a care aid for people with special needs.
When her husband finally arrived in Canada, he turned to the IWC for English language classes (Language Instruction for Newcomers – LINC). Ruby says she is quick to recommend the IWC to newcomers she meets, and has already recommended the free services to at least five or more friends. “To those who are newcomers who have difficulties – the Immigrant Centre is very helpful.”
After a celebratory lunch with her family following their citizenship ceremony, Ruby told us she feels so happy and blessed to become a Canadian citizen. “It’s been a long time,” she says.
Her family enjoys spending time in nature – they go camping, boating, and have gone surfing in Tofino.
“I really feel I’m blessed with this country. I love Canadians – they are very friendly – and I like my home here. I live in paradise, I always say.”