Ukrainian Vancouver has started new series of publications about different people in Ukrainian community in Vancouver and their immigration experience. We asked 5 questions to interviewees and here are the answers we’ve got.
Today please meet Lara Bezglasna, now successful realtor in Greater Vancouver, who will share her immigration story with us.
When did the idea to emigrate appear in your head?
The idea to emigrate came in 1994 for the first time. The main reason was the falling apart economic situation. Many people did not get their salary every month, including me. I was a teacher and I just could not go to the market to be the vendor so…
Why did you choose Canada and Vancouver?
We have chosen Canada because the developed Ukrainian community and Vancouver – because of the good climate and the purest water in the world.
I like this picture of a bridge as a symbol of the movement from the old, dated to the sparkling new… I feel that this Patullo bridge is a symbolic picture: the way from the rotten to the fresh new country, from the darkness to the sunlight.
What was the first year in Canada like?
The first year was full of tears, because of the homesickness and the adaption from one social level in society to another – much lower. I was teaching in University, but become a Dental Receptionist. My husband was working in City Hall in Ukraine – here he became a Truck Driver… Anyway, strong people should bite the bullet and move forward. Also, I was surprised that after all that huge publications and invitations to Canada from Canadian Government – nobody cares about you until you knock the door by yourself. So we knocked many doors to find how many great programs for newcomers were there. So many.
If you had possibility to change something in your past what would it be?
If I could return 20 years back – I would never immigrate. I lost everyday connections to family, friends. Thanks God, somebody invented Skype and now we can see relatives every day! The fact of immigration is a step for young people. I am patriot of Ukraine, I love Ukraine, its traditions and now I’ve broken the bonds with my people. At that time I was afraid of corruption, uncertainty, future in Ukraine, so we decided to try and to see the world from a different angle. Also we were thinking that the doors finally were opened to ordinary people, so if we would not try now – we would never forgive to ourselves that we missed the opportunity… If I think about my, now grown, children’s life – they have such a good life!
Probably I would never provide them with these benefits, that we have here is Canada – healthy environment, air and water; effective law and order in police, courts, educational institutions, moral level of society, keeping rules and bylaws as a norm of life. I respect that. For example, back in Ukraine only oligarchs could send their children to travel around the world for a half of year – my kids were able to do that even without our financial support. I did not need to look for friends or connections to get my children into University. They got in because the good school marks and and they got tuition scholarships without any bribes. Examples could be many.
From this perspective – now I have no regrets that we have immigrated – even though we lost a lot. If I would immigrate now, I would concentrate more on English skills and on the learning the adoptable everywhere profession. I would not rush to work from the first months of arrival but rather get a proper Diploma and get a better paying profession comparing to which I took in my first years in Vancouver. I would try to bring my family here before they past away… These three steps I suggest everybody should do. Otherwise, when you come here – you feel responsible for your kids, so you take any job, and if you do not have enough persistence – you might work hard physically for a long time and for a small amount of money. There is a price for the immigration, but our people are smart and hardworking and all new comers get a good secured stable life here.
Ukraine is a mother. We love her regardless of any situation. Canada is more of a caring step mom, who takes care of you and do not let you to be hungry. Canada is all about stability, peace, security, soft style of communication, good social service policy, healthy environment, working laws, clean, beautiful,. It has a lot of opportunities if you have a creative approach to life, it has remarkable tolerance to other nations, cultures and religions.
If you are able to accept the differences, to work crazy hard, if you are adaptable – you will be happy here. As I see and respect the Ukrainians who came to Canada 150 years ago, how they have preserved traditions and the Ukrainian language – I am full of confidence that my Nation will not to assimilate and to disappear from the history even far from a homeland. Personally, after all the first years of struggle, I have a great life with my new profession and lifestyle. My children thank me in every related conversation for bringing them to Canada. Canada is country for family, country for people.
We wish that Ukrainians will never need to immigrate from a home country, that they will never be pushed by the economy and the corruption to immigrate, that “Ukrainians will not have to stroll, to roam in other countries” in a search of the better life for their families. Moreover, I wish even the opposite. I believe that one day Ukraine will be that country where people would want to immigrate to! It will happen when Ukraine gets its real independence, changes the system and will give the free opportunity to the great Ukrainian people to build a new country with the real human rights.