I’m in my late twenties and I’ve been living in Canada for almost two years.
I have two jobs, a car and a house, but I have been living with my parents in a condo on a reserve in the heart of Winnipeg’s west end for the past five years.
When I got here, I didn’t know what to expect.
“I was expecting to be homeless, but my parents told me to stay out of the streets.
I was excited about the opportunity to get into a better life.
They were the first to tell me about it.
I thought I’d just be going home,” said Sarah, who requested her last name not be used because she is afraid to be publicly identified as a refugee.”
They told me about the work I could do for them.
I got an offer to go to a job training program and I got a job and moved in with my mother in November.”
It was a long road to success.
The work, in which I had to complete all the work on my resume, included writing a resume, doing interviews and even completing a portfolio.
It was the start of a two-year journey to get my first job.
After working for four years, I found a position as a manager with a mortgage company in St. John’s, where I had two months of unpaid leave.
After that, I moved back to Winnipeg and got a position in the banking department.
Now, I am a full-time mortgage agent.
The first year, I only worked seven hours a day, five days a week.
But now I’m getting paid an average of $35,000 a year.
I’m making $60,000 for the year.
“I’m thrilled, I’m grateful.
It’s just incredible to know that I am helping the community and I’m helping people who are vulnerable in the community,” said Maria, who also requested her name not known for fear of reprisal.
“I am an American citizen.
I come from a very diverse background.
I want to make a difference in people’s lives.
I am hoping to inspire people to learn more and to do things differently.”
For many people in Canada, this is a life they don’t know, a reality they can’t face.
But that doesn’t mean there are no challenges.
I spoke to three former refugees who said the biggest challenge is knowing where they’re going to be, what they’ll do when they get there and what kind of support they’ll have.
“When you’re in the refugee process, you have no idea how long you’re going be in the country.
And it’s very difficult to get on a plane, you know?
I’m always scared,” said Sabine, who asked her last names not be published for fear she’ll be ostracized by the family.
“But at the same time, it’s also hard to find housing.
It takes time, you just have to make the right decisions.”
It takes time and money to find affordable housing in Canada.
For some, it is even more difficult.
Maria and Sabine both had to work long hours to pay for rent, car payments and other monthly expenses.
Maria also had to start looking for a job when she first came here.
She and Sabina both had jobs that were not paying enough.
Both had to pay $2,000 each month for medical care.
Sabine had to drop out of university to be near her parents.
Both struggled to find work after moving here.
Maria said her first job she was offered was at McDonald’s.
“When I came here, my boss was really nice.
But when I asked for a raise, they were not happy with me,” she said.
“They were saying it’s really not a good way to make money.
It was just not good enough.”
But there is hope for Sabine.
She has a job that pays $13.50 an hour and is the best job she’s ever had.
“It’s amazing how much the people in my neighbourhood care about me.
I feel so lucky to be in a position where I have a good life, and I feel like I am not alone in my struggles.
I can help people in need and it’s nice to be able to make some money,” she explained.
As we spoke, Maria was looking at a check she has to pay off for the mortgage on her parents home, which she says is a $3,000 debt.
The house is worth $500,000, but Sabine said she has no idea what she is paying for.
I don’t have the money to pay it back.
I need help, but right now, I need to pay.
That’s why I’m going to Canada.
“There are so many people like me in Canada who have experienced the same kind of things as Sabine,” said Melissa, a 23-year-old Canadian refugee who has been in Winnipeg for six years.
She is looking for work