What do you like about Hamilton?
Most of the non-profit services in Hamilton collaborate and work together and Hamilton is very community oriented. I like that. In Toronto, I found that it was a lot more difficult to access services, but in Hamilton things are more connected. I also like that people from all different backgrounds live together and get along here.
What is your favorite thing to do here? What is your favorite place?
I love to volunteer here. I sit on the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council and a number of other boards. I also volunteer at the YWCA, and other places. I love giving back to the Hamilton community, and getting involved in all that Hamilton has to offer.
Tell us one thing that people may not know about you?
In the summer of 2017, I was selected as one of Canada’s top immigrants of the year, because of my ability to integrate into the Hamilton community and because of my work. Something else that people may not know about me is that I love to have fun and celebrate, but people assume I’m laid back because of my job as a counselor.
What do you do and what are your aspirations?
I am writing a book which I hope to publish in 2018, profiling the experiences of newcomers across Canada. I also work at Mohawk College, and I am the Chapter Lead of the Women in Leadership chapter of the YWCA in Brampton.
What is your message to other newcomers that are coming to Hamilton? Any advice?
For newcomers, we have a lot of resources in Hamilton. Don’t limit yourself and tell yourself that something isn’t achievable. It is possible to start fresh and build a new life, but you have to be committed and willing to do the work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and always believe that anything in life is possible.
Tell us your story
I didn’t have as hard a time as some other immigrants or refugees, but one story in particular will always stick with me. When I first immigrated to Canada from Romania in the 90’s as a permanent resident, my eldest son was twelve and I was pregnant with my second son. I did not realize when I came here that I would not be eligible for healthcare for three months. I went into labor within this time frame and learned right away that delivering a child costs thousands of dollars, especially because I was told I was in need of a Caesarian section at the time. Before I gave birth, the staff at the hospital made me sign a contract for the payment. That was scary, specially considering I was new to the country and not yet employed.