Saturday, October 16, 2010

My guardian angels

As mentioned in my previous post, I had neither kin nor kith when I first applied to migrate to Canada. Strangely enough, along the way, at the right place and the right time, my guardian angels appear.


First off is PN. PN and I were both sitting at the front row of chairs at the Singapore Central Police Station back in August-2009. We were clutching our Canadian High Commission letter requesting for police clearance, waiting for our ticket number to be called. Glancing to our left, right and back, there were others headed the same way. Out-of-the-blue, in an untypically Singaporean character, we started to chat. PN was methodical in her migration plans -- right down to checking the best price for the medical check-up, cheapest way to transfer funds, most cost-effective personal items shipping, best deal for air tickets, best time to land, and renewing her Singapore passport before leaving. [Note, in case you're wondering about the passport: In Canada, there was is no Singapore High Commission, Consulate, Representative Office, whatsoever. Zilch!]

[Edit on Nov 29th, 2011: Since May 12th 2011, after GE2011, Singapore appointed a Honorary Consul-General in Vancouver.]


Then on my final month in Singapore, friends and family started passing me whatever Canadian-based contacts they had. Plus, online friends linked me to Vancouver-based contacts that could be my safety-line if needed. If any of you happened to read this, BIG THANK YOU!


The weekend before I fly, I passed my outstanding Singapore paperwork to my younger sister LF, who helped me to follow-through. My elder sister LY gave me her 2 large luggage bags and her London winter wear. The luggage bags were great, just large enough to fit all the remaining items and gave a total weight that just met the check-in luggage limits [2 pieces of maximum 22kg each]. The winter wear is a life-saver, I am dressed in them daily.


When the plane touched-down at Vancouver airport, the elderly Taiwanese lady, whom I sat next to and chatted with, turned around and pointed out SL who was sitting 5 seats behind me. “她也是新加玻人,也是新移民到加拿大。” ["She is also a Singaporean. She is also a new migrant to Canada."]

It turned out that SL was sitting next to and chatted with this same Taiwanese lady on the Taipei-to-Manila leg of their journey. SL and I clicked right-away. We "landed" as new Canadian immigrants on the same day, from the same plane. In the recent days, we found so many similarities in our lives, despite her years away from Singapore and her high-flying and jet-setting career. She told me that as she was traveling to Canada without kin or kith, she prayed to God for someone... and I'm her first friend in Canada!


Thank you, my guardian angels.

Why Canada?

When I first applied for migrating to Canada back in end-2006, I had neither kin nor kith there. I did not know anyone personally in Canada. Till then, I have only met one ethnic Chinese Canadian at work in Singapore some years back. But we did not become friends because I did not like him personally.

Some friends asked me this -- Why did I, someone known not to tolerate cold, choose Canada of all eligible places for migration?

It was a process of elimination.

First off, I am not rich nor particularly business-savvy. Thus business/investment migration was out of reach for me. That pretty much scratched out the many pretty island countries such as The Bahamas. :-)

I wanted to go to a first-world country where the rich-poor gap was not so great. I wanted a country with not so much poverty or extremely poor regions. I wanted a country with a mature democracy, press freedom, independent judiciary, more liberal outlook and great natural sights. That scratched out most of Asia. That also scratched out USA, South American and African countries, Russia and the previous Soviet bloc, the Arctic and the Antarctic.

I like some aspects of USA, but not its extreme capitalism and its health care system. So scratched USA. [Addendum on 18-Dec-2011: Click here for charts illustrating the rich-poor gap in USA.]

I also wanted a country where there would be respect for personal life/choices and policies that support work-life balance. Where people are not constantly under pressure to be cheaper, better or faster. Thus, Japan was scratched out because it was a pressure cooker at the workplace and its general demand for conformity.

I loved UK. But UK was part of EU. The policy of EU countries is to give priority to Europeans. With the flood of Eastern Europeans, my chances seem slim. So scratched all European countries.

That left me with Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Australia looked tempting. I have several people whom I know personally there. I've been to Sydney and liked the place. However, it is a huge piece of dessert (generalizing, of course!). I was concerned about how it would cope with its water resources given global warming.

That narrowed down to NZ and Canada. NZ had a glowing report on how global warming would be beneficial to its economy. However, I could not qualify for its skilled migration class back in end-2006. Given my petite size, my chance of being a seasonal farm-hand was slim. So say goodbye to the kiwis and the sheep. Baa baa! [Bye Bye!] :-P

That left me with Canada. The fact that Canada is officially bilingual interests me. I deduced that it would make the country more tolerant of diversity. I sent out my application with shaky hope. I was not sure if I would survive the cold here. But then, with global warming, it should get warmer, ya? Oops, it turns out otherwise. Today, a shop owner just told me that it is forecasted that this Canadian winter will be the coldest in 1000* years! What are the odds? So if I survive this winter, I should be here for good.

*Note: This is an exaggeration. Apparently Environment Canada, the Canadian weather office, had predicted that this winter will be the coldest in 15 years due to the effects of La Nina. The global warming trend still holds, just that the La Nina brings minor fluctuations to that trend.


If you're interested in coming to Canada, do check out the Federal Skilled Migrants list of desired skills. Do it fast! They introduced a quota in 2009 early-2010 for 29K migrants under this category for the next 12 months, but in June-2010 it was further tightened to 20K.


Ever got the feeling that you're in the right place, at the right time? I am feeling it now.

Canadian nursing boards and association

I have had several nurses in Singapore asking me how to get a nursing license in Canada. See below for sections on British Columbia (BC), Ontario, Alberta, and  Canada-wide information.


(I) British Columbia

This section is for the nurses who want to come over to British Columbia, Canada.

In Singapore we have Singapore Nurses Board. In British Columbia, there are 3 4 nursing boards depending on the type of nurse that you are.

College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (CRNBC)
[Note added on 25-Mar-2013: For more information about obtaining registration with CRNBC, please attend their free "General InformationSessions" (every 3rd Friday of the month) held at CRNBC office.]

College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of BC (CRPNBC)

College of Midwives of British Columbia (CMBC)

College of Licensed Practical Nurses BC (CLPNBC) - The equivalent of Enrolled Nurses in Singapore


(II) Ontario

Toronto, Ontario is also a popular migration destination. Here's the nursing board in Ontario.

College of Nurses of Ontario

See also: Ontario Immigration - Working as a Nurse in Ontario


(III) Alberta

Alberta is a booming province, thanks to oil. Lots of job opportunities, no provincial tax and better minimum wages.

College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta


(IV) Canada

The equivalent of Singapore Nurses Association in Canada is similarly named.

Canadian Nurses Association (CNA)

[Addendum 27-March-2011]
The following url from CNA gives an overview to international applicants on becoming a Registered Nurse or Midwife in Canada.

[Addendum 27-March-2011]
For the other Canadian provinces and territories, please refer to the following link from CNA for the relevant Registered Nurses regulatory bodies.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Landed in Canada

Day 1 (4-Oct): Received "Information for Newcomers" and "Welcome to Canada" guides from the C.A.N.N. (Canadian Airport Newcomers Network) at the airport. The C.A.N.N. lady was very helpful and informative. She went through step-by-step what I needed to get done for the next few days and where/how to get help. PR card application completed by Immigration Officers at airport. Taxi to home. Unpacked luggage.

Day 2 (5-Oct): Bought groceries. Settled my SIN (Social Insurance Number) at a Service Canada Centre. The Service Canada officer gave me a "British Columbia Newcomers' Guide to Resources and Services". It has good information and a checklist of things to be done by newcomers. Obtained the Richmond Library card and a Canadian mobile phone.

Day 3 (6-Oct): Opened bank accounts and applied for credit card. Tagged the Vancouver Library registration to the Richmond Library card. Hung out with new friend HC, went to Oakridge and Metrotown.

Day 4 (7-Oct): Laundry and drying done. Bought Monthly FareCard for travel on all public transport. Sent out MSP (Medical Services Plan) application. Dinner and movie at Vancouver with another new friend SL and her Toronto friend. I suspect SL invited me because she wanted me to play gooseberry.

Day 5 (8-Oct): Jet lag finally hit... I am totally sleepy today. Thankfully no headache. Now that all the critical paperwork are completed, I allowed myself to rest for the day.


Think I'm settling down ok. Distances that looked long on Google Map are actually nearer in reality. E.g. A 20 min walk estimated by my landlord is actually only 10-15 min. Or maybe I walk very fast for a Canadian pace?

Still acclimatising to the cold. Nevertheless, I'm improving. Needed 5 layers on top (thermal top, long-sleeve T, cashmere sweater, thin padded coat, mid-thigh length down-padded coat) initially for a 14 degree Centigrade weather, but I'm ok with 3 to 4 layers now. Still 3 layers at bottom (thermal bottom, leggings, jeans/pants). Socks and long boots for footwear. Well, I have a good excuse. I have just arrived from Singapore, where the coldest temperature is around 24 degree Centigrade.

Richmond is very Asian. Chinese and Cantonese are commonly heard. Many shops have both large Chinese and smaller English labels. I think my non-English speaking parents will be so at home here, ha ha!

While I like the friendly and relaxed suburban feel of Richmond, I prefer the more cosmopolitan mix of Vancouver. However, people in Vancouver are more hurried and less friendly than Richmond (although still better than Singapore). Perhaps it's due to Vancouver being a city/downtown area. Maybe I will check out Burnaby in future.