My name is Romeo Hidalgo. October 08, 2018 was a very special day for my family. On this day, my 2 sons, Herome and Rafhael and my daughter Sunshine, landed in Vancouver, BC as permanent residents. We were sponsored by my wife Belinda who started working in Campbell River (CR) on Jan 11, 2015 as live-in caregiver; now working in a respite facility caring for children with disabilities. The CR Immigrant Welcome Centre (IWC) had helped her with the PR application for herself and sponsorship for the whole family.
My wife shared with us how the IWC had been helping her so the first opportunity that we were able to go out, we booked an appointment with a Settlement Practitioner. She discussed with us the services provided by the IWC and we were introduced to the International Family Recreation Night Program. All the family members (5 in total) attended this fun and informative program. In this program we were able to connect with other Filipino families as well as meet other multi-cultural families. The IWC also assisted us to file for Child Tax benefits for my daughter. We are very thankful for this financial assistance; we do not have this kind of benefit in our country of origin.
When we arrived in CR, coming from a tropical country, the first challenge for us was the weather. The second challenge was the mode of transportation. In the Philippines, we could catch public transportation anytime but in CR, buses have specific time schedules. With the help of the IWC, the Angel Tree program gave my daughter a brand new bicycle. I was also given a used bicycle by a friend. We were thankful for the bikes but these did not fully solve our transportation needs. I have a driver’s license in the Philippines so I immediately studied for the knowledge exam and within two months, I was given a class 5 driver’s license and we were able to purchase a used vehicle.
We came to Canada to have a better quality of life, so my sons and I needed to work to achieve this goal. Again, through the IWC, I was able to work part-time at Walmart while my sons worked at Tim Hortons. I have observed that to have better paying jobs, we needed to study and be certified for a particular job that we wanted . Through an association with a churchmate who happened to be a professor at North Island College at the CR campus, we were introduced to the Aquaculture Technician Certificate Course (4 months’ full time study). My sons and I decided to take the course. Our decision was based on the fact that aquaculture is big on the Island and that big companies in CR are in the aquaculture business.
After completing the course, I was immediately hired by Mowi (Marine Harvest) and my sons were hired by Cermaq. We are very happy with our jobs. We work 8 days on and 6 days off. The salary is much higher than our former jobs and there are some great perks: free transportation, free board and lodging. The 6 days off was too long to be doing nothing, so we went back to our former employees and applied for some part time work and we were again accepted.
Our family now is looking for a house to purchase. We have again sought the help of the Settlement Practitioner of the CR Immigrant Welcome Centre to assist us in the process.
We are truly grateful to the Immigrant Welcome Centre. The work they do is very much appreciated. Whenever we meet immigrants not necessarily newcomers, we make it a point to introduce the IWC and share how they have helped our family. We are certain that they can be helped too.