Hump Day: Brave immigrants make their home in Canada

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I recently met with someone from China who’s in the process of going through the immigration system in the hopes of moving to Moncton to start a business that will strengthen business ties between Canadian and Chinese companies.

We talked for more than hour. Truth be told, I could have stayed there all night chatting.

It was fascinating! I learned a lot in our conversation. We talked about many things: the almost unimaginable heavy traffic in Beijing, the weather there (very warm and humid in the summer!) and how daily life isn’t so dissimilar from Canada (people get up and go to work, pay mortgages, send their children to school, etc.).

We also chatted about how Christmas is becoming more and more popular as a social holiday. (Just search for ‘Beijing’ and ‘Christmas’ in Google and you’ll see what I mean.) The Chinese may not have midnight mass on Christmas Eve, but they sure have the holiday shopping tradition down pat!

This person’s goal is to help Chinese companies do business in Canada and vice versa. Certainly, it’s a noble cause that will benefit both economies and opens up new business opportunities for both countries. After all, to many of us regular folks, just the mere thought of doing business in China is one big complicated and very intimidating puzzle that causes our eyes to glaze over in confusion. The vastness of the country, the completely different traditions and the language barriers are certainly nothing to be downplayed. I can’t help but think they feel the same way about us, too.

And then there’s the time difference. We had coffee at 4:30 p.m. and my Chinese friend’s internal clock was on Beijing time – 11 hours ahead – or 3:30 a.m. the next morning. That’s rough. But I have to give it to them! They looked as fresh as a daisy and certainly didn’t look tired. They didn’t yawn once and I would have never known that, at least internally, they were probably yearning to be curled up in bed snoozing. That’s commitment! That’s determination! I was impressed.

If it were me, and I was the one in Beijing, I’d be walking through the hotel lobby carrying the bags under my eyes in two separate wheelbarrows while simultaneously bursting into crying jags and yawning so hard that my jaw would snap in half and the top of my head would fall backwards just hanging off my neck.

Yeah, I admit it. I’m a doughy, spoiled rotten guy. I like being comfortable. In fact, my idea of roughing it is not to sleep outdoors with just a sleeping bag between me and the stars, but to stay in a fivestar hotel with outdated curtains.Oh the humanity! Oh the horrors! Peel me a grape!

Bring me a Perrier! I think what my Chinese friend is doing so is amazingly brave. I’d never be able to do it. Pull up stakes and move half-way around the world? Move to a culture that is so fundamentally different from mine? Boy, that takes guts. I admire that. I really do.

Thank goodness for the courageous pioneers over history who left their homelands to settle elsewhere in search of better lives. I’m telling ya, had I lived way back in the 1600s when my ancestors sailed to Canada from La Rochelle, France, I would have taken a pass.

“Nope, I’m perfectly fine right where I am eating my baguette and drinking red wine! Thanks for the offer, though. You have fun in the snow and dying from scurvy on that lovely trip over!” I know one thing, I hope there’s no one in the world waiting for me to land there and start from scratch. They’ll be waiting a long time, because I’m not as adventurous and brave as all those wonderful people willing to start over in other countries.

I’ve always been truly impressed and in awe of immigrants. To leave everything – and everyone – you know takes a lot of courage and a tremendous amount of guts.

Immigrants work long hours doing what it takes to become successful. In fact, I think they put many of us to shame. We don’t know how good we have it – me included.

There aren’t just people moving from other countries to Canada, of course. We do our fair share of moving to foreign countries, too, in order to live and work. It’s not an urge I’ve ever had, so I really can’t relate, but I know a few people who’ve left Canada to build their lives elsewhere and have been very happy doing it.

Many of us have relatives in New England. I know I do! Massachusetts, especially, has a significant Acadian population that is working diligently to preserve its heritage. I run a Facebook group for lovers of that Acadian delicacy poutine râpée (in reality, a hand-me-down from German settlers), and you’d be surprised by the number of Americans in the group who are looking to buy poutines or wanting to learn how to make them so that the old tradition is not lost.

These days in the Moncton area, there’s no problem finding poutine at farmers’ market, in restaurants and in grocery store delis year-round. I can tell you one thing, there are many people who would love to have them available where they live. One lady from Texas (of Goguen heritage) even posted photos of her family’s poutine-making adventure. And they turned out pretty good!

I’m so impressed with the drive of my new Chinese friend who’s made up their mind to relocate here. I know they’ll be a huge success – and I’m sure that both Canada and China will benefit mutually from their new adventure. They’re braver than I am!

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