Showing posts with label immigrating and moving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label immigrating and moving. Show all posts


a rare bout of nostalgia: remembering our move to canada

August 30, 2005: wmtc
Packing up the apartment and getting ready for the road trip brings back bittersweet memories.

In the spring and summer of 2005, we were in our final preparation for moving to Canada. All at once, an amazing writing opportunity dropped in my lap, we found a house to rent, and our dog Buster became extremely ill.

We made a one-day roundtrip trip to Port Credit (Mississauga) via Buffalo on the first day of what would become a new round of Saving Buster. (Since that cold and rainy night in Washington Heights when I found him on the street, near death, our lives were all about Saving Buster.) This time, it was months before we got a proper diagnosis. He got sicker and sicker, practically fading away before our eyes.

As my deadline loomed, I was writing full-time Monday through Friday, and working my day-job, two 12-hour days, all weekend.

It wasn't long before we realized Buster needed a specialist, which meant taking a subway to a Zipcar, driving the car back home, then driving all the way downtown. Multiple appointments, incredibly time-consuming -- but we saved his life. After that, he was on high doses of prednisone, which means very frequent trips outside, and he couldn't be alone for more than an hour or so.

This is a dog who already has two chronic conditions, requiring all kinds of meds. I had a spreadsheet with all the different instructions -- this on an empty stomach, this with food, these drops in both eyes twice a day, these drops in one eye once a day -- etc.

Allan hired the movers and did 100% of the packing while I churned out the words. It was the most pressure I have ever felt, before or since. But we did it. Allan got us moved. I met my deadline and got paid -- which let us not work for more than a month after moving. I was determined that Buster would make it to Canada with us, and he did.

Ten weeks later, while we were living in Port Credit, one of Buster's conditions suddenly worsened, and we had to let him go. Packing and moving makes me think of that.

It also reminds me of that day, a bit more than 13 years ago, when our dreams and our plans and our hard work and our luck all came together, and we physically moved to Canada. Coming out of the immigration building with my stamped papers, holding my arms high in victory, crying with joy and relief, Allan and I hugging and whooping. We did it.

Finding that post -- the drive north -- I scrolled through the wmtc category immigrating and moving. For a long time I marked the anniversary of moving to Canada -- six months, one year, two years, three years, four years, five years.

Then there are the "becoming a Canadian citizen" posts -- which also reminds me that this blog was, for a time, monitored by the federal government.

Then the anniversary posts end. In 2015, on our 10th anniversary of moving to Canada, we moved from our last rental house into our current apartment. I noted the day but didn't make a special post.

Through my library work, I've learned that, in general, one is an immigrant for a year, and a newcomer for five years. Living in a chosen country for more than five years, most people feel acculturated and no longer think of themselves as newcomers. This was true for me.


question about driving from ontario to bc: how long will it take to cross the rockies?

We're planning out our road trip to Vancouver Island a bit more carefully, with less spontaneity than we might normally want, because we need a pet-friendly motel for every stop. At the end of a long day of driving, I don't want to schlep from place to place looking for a motel that will let us stay with Diego! We'll also get better rates online, which will help compensate for any pet fees.

Allan is giving me a list of towns we're aiming for, and I'm booking motels. The question is: how long to leave to cross the Rockies?

We know there are different crossings, some easier (and safer) than others. We know to check weather conditions. We know to have a full tank of gas before starting out. All that kind of stuff: we know. No need for advice on that front. (Although why I bother writing that, I don't know. There is something about moving that brings out the advisers.)

What we don't know is, assuming good road conditions, how long to leave for this leg of the trip. Which pass would you take and how long would you expect it to take?

Update: This trip is not for scenery, not for hiking, and not for sightseeing. That's a bit frustrating for me, but I'd rather have more time in our new home before beginning my new job. This trip is strictly for getting there.

more on the privilege of moving: future tax refunds and the hero of this story

Thanks to several Facebook friends and at least one wmtc commenter, we've learned that the hefty cost of moving across Canada will be (eventually) (somewhat) reduced: the move is tax-deductible. It sounds like we'll receive a substantial refund from moving costs. I already have a box dedicated to receipts.

But the real reason we can afford this move -- and the hero of this story -- is my brother, M.

Back in April when he suggested driving the truck for us, we didn't think we'd need it. Then a few days ago, I emailed to say, we may need to take you up on that. And immediately M goes into action, checking flight times and air fares. Yep, he's taking the redeye from Oregon to Toronto to do this! He's also missing Thanksgiving with his family -- although I'm sure my adult nieces and nephews all understand, both the reason and their father. This is typical M. Someone needs me? I am there. It's quite amazing. Heroic.

We're extra lucky because my sister-in-law, also M, will join us somewhere on the trip, after Thanksgiving. It's very fitting, since the four of us explored Vancouver Island together earlier this year, when only the four of us knew the real reason for the trip.


the trials and tribulations (and incredible privilege) of relocating

Moving from the GTA to the north island is going to cost a lot more than I thought. And I'm struck by my huge privilege in being able to do this. Let's just label all these moving posts #FirstWorldProblems and get it over with.

When we moved from New York City to the Toronto area, we hired a big, professional moving outfit. It was a very complicated move involving a critically ill dog, a one-way minivan rental that had to be returned to Buffalo, our landing documents, and whatever else. Hiring real movers was expensive, costing about $6,000, but it completely removed the stress from that part of the equation. We had been saving money for a long time and it was part of our Moving to Canada Fund.

During our Vancouver Island trip last April, my brother offered -- several times -- to drive a moving truck for us. He's done this more than once when relocating from New Jersey to Oregon, so he knows what the trip entails and was willing (even happy) to do it again. But I saw that a rental truck would cost around $5,000 anyway, so why go through that? I don't know why I didn't realize that moving to a remote location on Vancouver Island would cost more than twice that much.

We got a few moving quotes that were suspiciously low. How could a move of that distance cost only $3,000? Answer: it can't. Researching the companies online, I read dozens of horror stories, most involving possessions being held hostage as companies demanded thousands more in payment, many involving lawsuits. Still, I had no idea.

From top-shelf professional movers, we got two quotes: $15,000 and $18,000. Ouch!

We did not expect that. But my brother was ready to spring into action, before I even absorbed the shock. The way I saw it, we had four choices:

1. Get rid of almost everything we own and move to the island with whatever can fit in a small U-Haul trailer behind our little car.

2. Go with cheapo movers and hold our breath.

3. Pay $15,000 or more.

4. Rent a truck, hire moving crews on both ends, and take my brother up on this incredible offer.

Option 1 is tempting (for me, not for Allan) but really not practical. If we ever had a life that could fit into a small trailer, that ship sailed a very long time ago. We'd have to replace many things -- and we won't live anywhere near stores to do that. We're also not prepared to get rid of all our books.

Option 2 is a non-starter. Why knowingly take that risk?

Option 3 is possible. We have the credit. But that would be a huge weight under which to start our new life. It would take me years to pay off. Unwise.

Option 4 ends up costing about $8,000 anyway, plus our own expenses. Not cheap! But doable. In 2019 we take only staycations -- which will not be a problem in our new location -- and by the end of next year, we're even.

(If you're wondering why we don't split up, one of us drive the truck and the other our car, I am not physically up to driving 5,000 kilometres by myself.)

So Allan and I will take turns driving our little Kia with Diego in the back seat, and my intrepid brother will drive the 26-foot U-Haul.

More about the trip itself in a separate post. I'll also blog along the way.


my plans and hopes for our big life change

We are moving west for several reasons. One is a lifestyle change. I've adjusted to living in the sprawling suburbs, and while we were living in a (rental) house, it was nice. But for the last 2-1/2 years we've been living in an apartment. A nice apartment, and a large one, but what's the point of the suburbs if you don't have a backyard?

Soon we will have a big yard, a deck -- and the ocean very nearby! I want to spend more time outside. We're not super outdoorsy, but I love to walk and hike, and I would like to kayak now and again. We're about to have a huge wilderness area in our backyard. I want to experience it as much as I can.

I have two goals.

In 2019, I will take a break from activism and focus on improving my fitness level. Although I've never been thin, I was in good aerobic condition and had good muscle tone -- until I started grad school in 2009. First school plus two jobs, then becoming a local union president, made physical exercise sporadic at best. My fibromyalgia demands I get adequate rest. Something always got pushed off the schedule, and it was almost always exercise. Now it's almost 10 years later, and I don't like how it feels.

Another change I want to try involves travel -- how often, where to, and why.

There are few things I love as much as travel. It feels more like a need, an addiction, than a pastime. But these days, some of my hunger to see new places has abated. I just want to travel -- anywhere. There are still dozens of places I'd love to see, but I notice that any travel, to anywhere, feeds the need. A big, special trip -- like Egypt last year, or Peru in 2006 -- slakes the thirst for a long time. But a short trip to a place I know well also quiets the bug, just for a shorter time.

Since we moved to Canada in 2005, all our family has been long-distance. This has sometimes caused conflict between wanting to visit people, and wanting to travel someplace new. Moving to Vancouver Island, we'll be closer to some family and farther from others, but everyone will still be long-distance.

So here's what I'm thinking. I'd like to try traveling primarily to see friends and family, plus local exploring, and see how that feels. That alone includes Vermont, Boston (Fenway Park), New York, New Jersey, California (both SoCal and the Bay Area), and Oregon. It could also include Florida, Maryland, Texas, and Alaska, if we wanted. And the GTA! We would see family and friends, and get some travel in at the same time.

I wonder, could we do this for, say, five years? Would it satisfy my wanderlust?


in which i discover yet another internet scam

Looking for rental houses on Craigslist, I've discovered a scam that I was previously unaware of.

I replied to an ad for a place that sounded wonderful, with unusually low rent. I was keeping in mind the old maxim "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," but at the same time, it's only an email. It can't hurt to ask.

Everything I wanted to know about the property was answered in the affirmative. Then the supposed owner told me that I should fill out a rental application and, if approved, I could see the place.

Hmm. It's been six years since we looked for a place to live, but I'm pretty sure you don't fill out an application before you even see a property, unless you're working with a real estate agent. That would be a colossal waste of time. And why would I send personal information to a person I haven't even met, for a house I might not even want?

I tried to arrange a time to see the house, saying I would bring the completed application with me, and if we liked the house, submit the application on the spot.

Supposed Owner said he would not meet me at the house. He would give me the address and send keys "by secure courier". OK. That is weird.

At the same time, I heard back from another ad I replied to, also with an extremely low rent. This Supposed Owner had to leave the country suddenly for missionary work! They would give me an address where I could see the exterior of the house, and would mail me the keys.

Next stop: Google. "Rental scams." Dozens of sites describe this very common scam, but the SCAMwatch website, run by the Government of Australia, is particularly concise.
Fake rental properties and shared accommodation listings

Prospective tenants are being ripped off by fake rental property and shared accommodation listings on the internet posted by scammers.

SCAMwatch is warning prospective tenants to be wary when responding to rental properties advertised on the net where the 'owner' makes various excuses as to why you can't inspect the property but insists on an upfront payment for rent or deposit.

Scammers will often use various shared accommodation sites to post these fake listings. They will go to great lengths to ensure that the offer looks genuine by including photos and real addresses of properties. However, photos and details of properties can be easily obtained on the internet.

Once hooked, the scammer will request money, often via money transfer, or personal details upfront to 'secure' the rental property. SCAMwatch warns consumers not to send money or provide personal details to people you don't know and trust.

Warning signs - what to watch out for:

- Too good to be true offers.

- Ongoing excuses as to why the property cannot be viewed, such as the owner is overseas.

- Securing the property requires an up front fee via money transfer.

- The prospective landlord lives overseas.

How to protect yourself

- Insist on inspecting the property - a drive-by is not enough. With these types of scams, the property may genuinely exist, but it is owned by someone else.

- If it is overseas, ask someone you can trust to make inquiries. If there is a real estate agent or similar in the area they may be able to assist.

- Do not rely on any information provided to you from anyone recommended by the person advertising the property.

- An internet search on the name of the person offering the property and their email address may provide useful information.

- Where possible, avoid paying via money transfer. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
Today in the Craigslist housing listings, I noticed two ads, both identical to ads I saw yesterday - same photo, same text - but with the rent 30% lower. The poster hadn't even bothered to change conflicting information: the text said "no smoking no pets," but the Craigslist template was set to "cats OK dogs OK". (Example: original ad, scam ad.)

Like many people, when I heard about these scams in the past, I used to blame the victim. How could anyone fall for this? Now I take a more generous view. People can't know what they haven't been taught. Need or desire can blind us, and affordable housing is rarer than an honest real estate agent.

It's not just fresh-off-the-boat rubes and hayseeds that get taken. This New York Times article describes "a woman in her 20s who works in finance at a major investment bank" who came close to falling for a scam. Several people described in that article thought they were savvy, but ended up forking over money to con men.


jason kenney kills dream of canadian immigration for 280,000 people

Anyone who follows Canadian immigration had to see this coming, although I admit I didn't think they'd do it in one fell swoop. Just as they have done with refugee claimants, the Harper GovernmentTM created a backlog of immigration applicants... then they got rid of it.
More than 280,000 people who have been waiting years for a decision on their immigration files could be soon be chopped from the list as the federal government moves to streamline its immigration practices.

It’s a decision some immigration lawyers are calling a betrayal by the government that they say is changing the rules too late in the game.

“These people have had the rug pulled out from underneath them,” said Montreal-based lawyer David Chalk.

“The government of Canada invited people who had certain qualifications to apply, these people invested time energy and hope."

Citizenship and Immigration Canada said it’s coping with half a decade of application backlogs by focusing efforts on skilled immigrants who can immediately fill holes in the country’s labour market.

The change was proposed in the federal budget, presented by the Conservative government Thursday.

If approved, the department will close files of potential immigrants who applied under the Federal Skilled Worker Program before Feb. 27, 2008 if an immigration officer did not made a decision on their case by the end of March.

The move is expected to affect around 280,000 people, including the applicants and their dependants.
This will please the anti-immigration crowd, but it won't help Canada. For better or worse, Canada was built by immigrants, and continues to be. The only reason Canada has population growth or economic growth is because of immigrants. Imagine that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration doesn't believe that.


congratulations to two more new canadians!

Major congratulations are in order! Our friends and fellow expatriates "Gito and Mrtew" are now Canadian citizens! Or soon will be: they've passed their test and are scheduled to take their oath.

These guys have been through a lot to be together. Because Gito is not a US citizen, they couldn't live together in the US, since their relationship is not legally recognized. They stayed together through deportation and then the long wait of immigration. In Canada, they were able to get married, buy an adorable house in Windsor, and make their life together. Gito is now attending university.

We finally met in person for the first time a few years ago, and I'm sure we'll all see each other again. The Red Sox in Detroit are a great excuse to visit friends in Windsor. You can see Gito's amazing and unusual photography at eggfactory and Arte is Foto.

Becoming Canadian means a lot to me, and our journey from that first thought - "Maybe we should move to Canada... Could we? Should we?" - to the day we took our citizenship oath has, in many ways, defined our lives. But no matter how much Allan and I wanted to leave the US, we could have continued living in New York City. Gito and Mrtew, like our friends Tom and Emilio, didn't have that option. Tom and Emilio lived in constant fear of deportation; Gito and Mrtew were forced apart. It doesn't have to be that way. One day, it won't be. Until then, how many lives will be ruined?

Most of our old moving-to-Canada crew - a bunch of US couples who applied to emigrate to Canada within a few years of each other and found each other online - are now either Canadian citizens or soon will be. As each of us gets citizenship, we all celebrate. I feel a real bond between us all. They're like my extended family, Canadian edition.


welcome to canada, welcome to the blogosphere

I haven't done a "welcome to Canada, welcome to the blogosphere" post in a long time.

Many years ago, this kind of post was a wmtc staple. Folks who had found this blog and each other during their emigration process would start blogs, and we'd all cheer each other on as the months and years of waiting dragged on . . . then finally we'd welcome each other to Canada. Some of those folks have become mainstays of the progressive blogosphere, but most have moved on.

I'm very pleased to introduce a new moving-to-Canada blog, written by friend-of-wmtc Northern Girl. NG and her family escaped the hell of Florida, first for the limbo of Ohio, and now, at last, for the freedom they hope to find in Guelph. That's one more family to help make Canada the country we want it to be. You can welcome Northern Girl and follow her family's progress at Moving to Ontario.

Another USian defector introduced himself to me recently. He and his family moved to Canada - also from the US south - around the same time Allan and I did. They're the second US ex-pats we've met with that coincidence of dates. Charles, who lives in New Brunswick, contacted me asking how he could help the war resisters campaign. He doesn't blog, but he's written an essay on why he moved to Canada. It may surprise you.

And finally, a friend and comrade of mine has started an excellent new progressive blog: "your heart's on the left", musings on health and politics. I love the title, especially as the blogger is a physician.

Dr. J is the first socialist doctor I'd ever met, the first doctor I've known who doesn't introduce himself with his title. He's a committed activist and an excellent writer, and this is his first foray into blogging. I'm glad to tune in from the beginning, so I can read everything he posts. Check it out.

One of the items on my to-do list this past summer - one of the few things I didn't accomplish - was to re-design the look of wmtc. I'm already looking ahead to my winter break for the renovation. I'm totally sick of looking at this blog in its current form. I'm thinking of going stripped-down, minimalist. So one day I'll surprise you.


quiet? invisible? as if: american immigrants to canada get noticed

We've been discovered! Globe and Mail editorial.
The quiet Americans who are Canada’s invisible immigrants

Research into the least studied immigrant group shows that many come in pursuit of ideals

Canada takes pride in being a country of immigrants. Scholars devote much time to researching the social and economic outcomes of newcomers, most of whom hail from visible-minority communities. It is fitting, then, that someone has delved into Canada’s fourth-largest immigration source: Americans.

These invisible immigrants – there are one million, more than at any time since the Vietnam War – are a unique group. According to a leading American geographer, they come to Canada not for economic opportunities, but for the country’s set of values.

Of course, every immigrant’s motivations are intensely personal. However, extensive research by Susan Hardwick, a professor at the University of Oregon, shows that the over-arching inspiration for moving north of the border is an idealistic one.

Americans are attracted by their view of Canada’s more liberal culture. That includes support for a universal public health-care system, positive attitudes toward gays and lesbians, gun control laws and multiculturalism.

In British Columbia, for example, Prof. Hardwick found that most recent arrivals from the U.S. reported their primary reason for leaving was the idea that Canada is a safe refuge for liberal thinkers and idealists.

There are also a growing number of what she calls “midlife mavericks,” who are seeking new lives in what they see as the promised land.

The trend, it seems, is enduring. Reciprocal migration means Canadians need not worry about the brain drain south.

Prof. Hardwick attributes the spike in American immigration, in part, to dissatisfaction with the conservative policies of former president George W. Bush’s years in office.

Now that President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is in the White House, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper leads a Conservative minority government, will liberal Americans sour on Canada? Early research results show that American immigrants are not inclined to move back, especially in light of Canada’s stronger economy.

As well, given Tea Party activism, anti-immigration policies in states such as Arizona, and popularity of commentators such as Glenn Beck, liberal Americans remain unsettled by U.S. political culture.

American-Canadians are enthusiastic Canadians. Even those who retain dual citizenship embrace their new identity. Two-thirds of American immigrants have a “very strong” sense of belonging to Canada, according to the Canadian Ethnic Diversity Study. For many, Canada is the “America idealized” in the post-9/11 world, says Prof. Hardwick.

American-Canadians also earn higher salaries and are more educated than other immigrant groups in Canada.

Canadians should embrace these newcomers, and be careful not to tar them as overly individualistic, flag-waving or materialistic – stereotypical traits often, wrongly, associated with Americans.

The presence of American immigrants is doing as much to shape Canada as the influence of newcomers from China, South Asia and the Philippines.

Canadians should resist the urge to repeat negative clichés about the U.S., and view Americans as among the most buoyant new Canadians.


five years ago today, we move to canada

The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is also the fifth anniversary of the day we moved to Canada.

drive_north 011

It's a poignant anniversary, as two members of that family are gone now.

Cody was in a den of boxes at the far back of the World Fullest Mini Van™. She had no grey fur yet!

drive_north 007

Buster was in the front, between us, touching me in some way for the entire trip. We had a cooler full of special food and medication for him.

drive_north 001

So much has changed since then. Allan often says that his day-to-day life has changed little since moving to Canada, but I feel that mine has changed drastically. Suburban life, our friends here, the war resisters campaign, grad school - all new. I'm not writing professionally; I'm looking towards a new career.

Five years doesn't seem that long, but it's a lifetime of sorts.


becoming canadian: today we take the final step (updated!)

The final piece is in place: we are Canadian.

At the ceremony today in Mississauga, 119 permanent residents of Canada became Canadian citizens. We hailed from these 25 different countries:
Sri Lanka
United Arab Emirates
United States of America

We said the oath, which I still find très bizarre - but then again, I find the whole concept of nationality, citizenship and loyalty oaths antiquated and fairly unnecessary. On the other hand, we recited the oath in both official languages, repeating the French phrase by phrase after the presiding judge, who was herself an immigrant once, probably from China.

In case you're wondering, I cried. Of course I cried. This represents the culmination of so many plans and dreams and so much hard work and waiting. It represents my final disengagement from the United States (although I am still a US citizen and will remain so, at least for the foreseeable future).

From our experience when we took the test wrote the exam, we knew there would be no time to celebrate afterwards without missing part of the Red Sox game (as if), so I suggested a good alternative: celebrate before! We went to The Brogue in Port Credit, the scene of our first pint and lunch in Canada when we came up to look at apartments, and from which we ended up living a block away for our first year. A couple of pints before a citizenship oath - that's a requirement, isn't it?

Every New Canadian at the swearing in received a little paper Maple Leaf flag, a bookmark with the lyrics to O Canada in both English and French, and a little booklet commemorating the day. Everyone recites the oath together, then each person is called up individually to receive a certificate and shake the judge's hand, then signs the loyalty oath as a legal document.

The citizenship certificate, unfortunately, is signed by my two least favourite Canadians: Stephen Harper and his sidekick, the Calgary Doughboy, Jason Kenney. In fact, Kenney's name was all over this day. But fortunately, he was not there in person, so I didn't have to execute any of our plans for public dissent.

So, this is it. Next step: passports, then voting. Can't wait!

Many, many thanks to everyone for all your love and support.

* * * *

11:00 a.m.

Impudent Strumpet is sending people here to congratulate us! I'm totally abashed. But I figured I'd better make a spot in case anyone took her up on it.

The ceremony is this afternoon. I'll update this post when it's official.


we are canadian citizens!!!!!!!

Received in today's mail:

Please appear on 10 June 2010 4:00 pm



becoming canadian: another step completed

We took the test! Like every step in the lengthy process of immigrating to Canada and becoming a Canadian citizen, this involved a lot of waiting. We'll know the results in about two months.

* * * *

There were about 50 people waiting at the CIC office with us, faces and accents representing the global village of Mississauga. Many people seemed nervous and excited. Some people were studying their "Discover Canada" guide. It was amusing to be doing this at the same place I once protested, waiting for our pal Jason Kenney to appear!

First we waited to be checked in, which went pretty quickly, simply matching names on the letters we had received to our CIC files.

Then we waited to be interviewed by a CIC officer. The woman we saw was - like every service person I have dealt with in Canada - pleasant, friendly, encouraging, and seemed to actually enjoy her job. I always expect Patty and Selma at the DMV, but we left them behind in New York City.

Ms Nice CIC Person checked our passports and the out-of-country trips we had declared on our applications. She asked us questions about where we live and where we work.

I was surprised about this, as being employed is not a qualification for citizenship. I asked about it, and she explained that the questions are to prove that you do in fact live in Canada. Because, said Ms NCP, there has been a lot of fraud in the past, people becoming citizens who don't actually live in Canada, there is now a more thorough check of residence requirements. If we had children, they would ask for the names of their schools and teachers.

I told her that a few years back, I lost my job when a company went out of business, then was unemployed for a while. Would that have been held against me? Ms NCP said, Absolutely not. In fact, if one was collecting social assistance in some form, that would show that you were living in the country, so it would be a positive residency factor. She also said that these types of questions have been added to the application, so they can be checked in advance.

Ms NCP gave us scan-forms with the fill-in-the-letter circles used for standardized testing in the US (don't know about Canada) and sent us through to the next step, saying she was sure we'd have no problem becoming citizens.

We sat in the adjoining room, a courtroom type of setting where, presumably, we'll be sworn in one day. There, we picked up clipboards, filled in the letter and number bubbles for our names and application numbers, and waited.

And waited.

Everyone had to be interviewed. There were three or four CIC staffers interviewing, but it still took a long time. We had planned to go out to celebrate, but as time ticked away - baseball starts at 7:00, and I had plans to meet a friend - we kept scaling back. It went from dinner in Port Credit to "we'll go someplace closer" to "we'll just have a quick drink" to "we'll pick something up and bring it home". Oh well!

Finally everyone was checked in, and another very friendly, chipper CIC person addressed us in the swearing-in room. She explained the test-taking procedure. She had us spread out among the seats, and partners were to sit on opposite sides of the room from each other.

There would be 20 questions, with 15 correct answers needed to pass. There are two mandatory pass questions - meaning, questions number 10 and 11 must be answered correctly in order to pass. And there is a one-of-three mandatory group: of questions 12, 13 and 14, at least one must be answered correctly for a pass.

There are several different versions of the test. Allan and I compared questions on the way home, and we definitely had different versions.

My test was a snap. I'm sure I got a perfect score. Since it took me about five minutes to complete, and knowing where my weakness lies, I went back and checked my answers, and found one question where I filled in the wrong circle by accident. I corrected that, handed in my test and waited a few minutes for Allan to finish.

Allan appeared a few minutes later. His test sounded a bit more difficult than mine. He may have missed one or two questions, but none of the mandatory ones, so still well within passing.

The mandatory questions are about the Canadian system of government, such as who do Canadians vote for in federal elections; after an election, how is the government formed; who is eligible to vote.

Both Allan and I had a question that reflected the "barbaric cultural practice" flag in the new Conservative-written citizenship guide. (See คาสิโนออนไลน์ แจกเครดิตฟรี 2019here, shorter versions here and here.) Mine was, "Which of these is a right of Canadian citizens?" One choice was, "The right of a husband to force his wife to cover her face and avert her gaze in public." Allan had the same question, and one choice was, "The right of a father to choose who his daughter will marry."

The correct answer for mine, by the way, was, "The right to believe whatever one chooses and freely express one's beliefs". True, but still debatable.

I also had a question about the significance of Vimy Ridge. There was no choice containing the words "useless bloodbath" so I chose "important battle in the First World War that cemented Canadians' reputation for valour". Allan had questions about Remembrance Day and the Victoria Cross.

Other than that, it was all very straightforward, a smattering of geography, government, history, and culture. What are the two official languages, which of these provinces make up the Prairie region, how long have the Aboriginal people been in Canada, who was the first Prime Minister, which is the most populated province, how many provinces are there, and so on. I think the best way to study is to take practice tests online, such as the kind I posted here, and of course, read the Discover Canada guide.

We learn the results in about two months. I was hoping to get sworn in by Mayor McCallion on Canada Day, but we probably won't make that.


citizenship test today!

Allan and I are taking the test writing the exam for citizenship today. We've been scoring 90% or 100% on all our practice tests, so it shouldn't be too much of an ordeal.

According to Wikipedia:
The test lasts for 30 minutes and contains 20 multiple choice questions. Applicants for citizenship must answer at least 60%, or 12 questions, correctly in order to pass the test. They must also answer correctly the first two questions, both of which deal with the electoral system. The failure rate on the citizenship test is low; in 2008, approximately 4% of the 145,000 test takers failed.

I have no idea how long it will be until we are called for a swearing-in ceremony. Reports vary widely.

There has been much merriment in our home and among my Campaign friends about the "special test" the CIC will have waiting for us today. One question, pass/fail. "Name every Leader of the Opposition beginning with Confederation..." Fail? You're deported!

We've also been imagining a swearing-in ceremony where half the spectators are wearing WAR RESISTERS WELCOME HERE t-shirts and holding signs saying "Jason Kenney Stop The Deportations". Dale said I'd be the first person sworn in and deported on the same day.

Seriously though, Ms CIC Spy, I'm thrilled to become a citizen of Canada. You can tell them all that: "She hates the government, but she loves the country."


notice to appear to write a citizenship test

Good timing, eh?

We received this in the mail today.

Please appear on: 27 May 2010 4:00pm

75 Watline Avenue . . . [I know it well!]

You will have to write a test about your knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship. You may write the test in English or French. To prepare for the test, you should study the book "A Look At Canada"...

This says our test is based on the old citizenship guide, but they may be using a form letter that was never updated. An earlier letter I received said our test will be based on the new guide.

Hm, what to do... Study both? "Before I write the test, could you please tell me if the test is based on the neoconservative wishful-thinking version of Canada, or the progressive wishful-thinking version?"

Whoo-hoo! We'll be citizens in time for this year's wmtc party!

PS: Dear Trolls: in your face!


ignorance abroad

To visitors from Little Green Footballs:

Just because you personally don't know any Americans who have moved to Canada, doesn't mean it isn't being done. In 2006, 11,000 USians emigrated to Canada, and that number continues to increase.

Please note that my partner and I applied to emigrate to Canada in 2003. We didn't care who won the fraudulent 2004 "election". We'd had enough. It takes about two years to go through the Canadian immigration process, thus we moved in 2005.

Through this blog, I hear from dozens - by now, hundreds - of Americans asking advice on how to come to Canada. Sadly, I also hear from so many Americans who desperately want to come to Canada, but don't meet the requirements.

Stay in the US if you like, but don't assume everyone else is. Many people think a country with high-quality health care and equal rights for all is a better place.



Search string of the day:
desperately want to leave the u.s.

I know how you feel. Best of luck.



Search string of the day:
married indian boy reach canada and once again married to canadian girl for citizenship-canadian

No comment. I mean, what more can one say?


"a diminution of the protection responsibility of canada"

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, with no warning, slapped visa restrictions on people from Mexico and the Czech Republic entering Canada, in an attempt to reduce refugee claims from those countries, they won praise from xenophobic right-wingers who ignorantly believe Canada's refugee system to be too lax or too generous. That's a gimme. Tough talk about refugees and immigrants scores easy points with the Me First crowd.

But the Conservatives' visa ploy ran athwart of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and tarnished Canada's reputation in the process.

The Conservatives claim the refugee system needs to be changed, and they point to the large backlog of cases as proof. But the backlog is of their own making, a direct result of funding cuts and the failure to replace Immigration and Refugee Board decision-makers when their terms expire.

This very good article from Embassy magazine, "Canada's foreign policy newspaper," explains. Emphasis mine.
UN Refugee Agency Cries Foul on Mexican, Czech Visas
By Jeff Davis

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has serious concerns about the government's decision to impose visas on Czech and Mexican nationals in an effort to reduce refugee claims.

In an interview with Embassy last week, Abraham Abraham, the UNHCR's top representative in Canada, said such actions go against the spirit of refugee protection, and that Canada's actions could create a negative precedent, and weaken the foundation of global refugee protection regime.

"Visas are a prerogative of states," Mr. Abraham said. "But imposing a visa that will lead to, basically, reduction in the capacity of people to access protection or asylum is something that is inconsistent with a protect refugees.

"Restricting the arrival of people is in a way tantamount to excluding them from the possibility of being able to seek asylum. That to us is disturbing because the commitment of states to refugee protection is the core of the entire protection regime, and if that is diminished in any way, it can affect the protection of refugees at a much, much larger scale elsewhere."

In recent months, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have alleged that many Mexican and Czech citizens — as well as US war resisters — are making "bogus" refugee claims. They say the claims have bogged down the refugee system and created a crisis that can only be solved with visa requirements.

But Mr. Abraham said individual rights lie at the very heart of international refugee protection, and that generalizations cannot be made about groups of people. About 10 per cent of Mexican asylum seekers, he reminds, are legitimate refugee claimants. And while these may be vastly outnumbered by incorrect or fraudulent claims, the legitimate claims must be recognized as such.

"Refugee status determination is an individual rights-based approach," he said. "You cannot generalize that a particular nationality, or a group of people, are all refugees or are not refugees. You can't do that because it's an individual rights-based approach, and determinations are made on the basis of individual persons."

Mr. Abraham lamented the fact legitimate Czech and Mexican refugee claimants will be negatively affected by the visa requirements and won't find the protection they need.

"It makes us a little bit sad, or rather a little fearful, to think that...those in the future will not be able to gain asylum and protection," he said. "To me, that is certainly a diminution of the protection responsibility [of Canada]."

Messrs. Harper and Kenney have also said in recent weeks that Canada's refugee system and laws are "broken."

Mr. Abraham disagreed, however, and said that Canada's refugee determination system is perhaps the best in the world, due to its objectivity and insulation from outside interference. He added that the UNHCR routinely calls on countries around the world to emulate the Canadian example.

"For us in UNHCR, we consider the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to be a paragon of excellence," he said. "Canada is a good model to emulate. Canada is best practice."

Due to its track record of just treatment for refugees, Mr. Abraham said, Canada belongs to a small group of nations who are looked to to lead by example.

"We are talking about these countries being the guardians of the very fundamental principles of refugee protection," he said. "And there is an expectation that they will abide by the [1951 UN] Convention [on Refugees]."

'Unusually Outspoken'

Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said the UNHCR is known as a very cautious and diplomatic organization when it comes to criticizing nations like Canada, which accepts large numbers of refugees.

She said Mr. Abraham's "unusually outspoken" comments indicate the UNHCR is very worried the government is "backing away" from a commitment to refugee protection.

She said the government's casual generalizations about the legitimacy of claims made by groups such as Mexicans and Czech Roma betray a lack of understanding and commitment to the core principles of refugee protection.

"Anyone who knows anything about refugee determination knows you cannot talk about a whole group not being refugees," she said. "You have to hear the individual claims and make an individual determination based on the facts of the individual case.

"I think that Mr. Abraham was right in suggesting that it points towards Canada moving away from a traditional commitment to refugee protection," Ms. Dench said. "It looks like we're turning out backs on refugees."

NDP Immigration Critic Olivia Chow said the Conservative government has manufactured a crisis at the IRB, and is now using it to impose a "two-tier" refugee system where citizens from so-called safe countries are treated differently. Mr. Kenney has been alluding to a two-tier system for months, while Canwest News Service reported this week the government will move to introduce such a system when Parliament resumes.

Ms. Chow said a move towards a two-tier refugee system would fail to protect many vulnerable individuals who come from developed, democratic nations but face persecution nonetheless. She cited gays and lesbians, who face the death penalty in some countries, and women fleeing domestic abuse as examples.

"Those individuals that are most vulnerable, not necessarily because of their nationality but because of who they are, will get rejected out of hand because they come from a 'safe country,'" she said. "That's a huge step backward on individual rights-based refugees determination process, for which Canada is proud and internationally known."

Ms. Chow said fixing the problem of IRB backlogs is not "rocket science," and requires simply more resources and more judges.

Mr. Abraham seemed to agree.

"What's important is that no asylum seeker should be turned away because we have a duty and a responsibility to listen to the person and determine that person's status," he said. "And that of course may require resources, but we must remember this is a humanitarian and a compassionate act, to listen to them and be able to provide that protection they are seeking."