Home away from home
by Yvanne Dandan
Toddler Yvanne and her Ate A-yen at the Winnipeg International Airport, May 15, 1994
Young Yvanne enjoying the snow!
“Welcome to Winnipeg” the pilot announced as the plane touched Canadian ground. This marked the start of a new chapter and exciting opportunities, accompanied by inevitable nerves for my family. To this day, my parents tell me that, although we were living a perfectly comfortable life back in the Philippines, moving to Canada has been nothing but a blessing for our family. I was only a mere toddler back then but “our family’s immigration story” was one of my highly requested bedtimes stories as a child. Let me share with you the condensed version of that story.
It was near midnight on May 15, 1994 when my family found ourselves officially in the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. “We were the last ones to leave the plane,” my mom recalls. Apparently my family was so excited that we landed safely at our destination that we waited for all other passengers to leave the plane just so we could have solo pictures with the captain and fight attendants. We didn’t even get to descend on the famous “arrivals” escalator in the airport because we exited through the doors with the flight team! Way to make our entrance into Winnipeg!
Just like anyone who makes a big life-changing decision, our family had a lot of adjustments to make in our early years of living here in Canada. One would have to find the strength to let go of the “comfort zone” in order to make room to explore new opportunities.
My parents were both aware that their educational credentials from the Philippines would not be considered. For example, in the Philippines my father was an accountant and my mom was a teacher but their first jobs in Canada were in housekeeping (dad) and at a fast-food chain (mom). “We had to do what we to do,” my dad would say. In addition to my parents working, all three of my siblings also worked. Looking back now, I can proudly say that it was truly a team effort that enabled our family to survive those early years.
Although there were some adjustment challenges in the early years, it was also a very exciting time. For example, since there’s no winter season in the Philippines, my family’s first few winters were incredibly thrilling! Snowfall was nothing but beautiful to us back then and the cold felt like an outdoor “aircon.” However, it didn’t take long until our reaction to winter turned from “Wow!” to “No!” It’s amazing how many beautiful and funny memories can be shared during these times.
When I look back now, 23 years later, I can join my parents in saying that our move to Canada was a great decision. Since God is truly good, I’m sure that no matter where we went He would have taken good care of us. However, I believe that everything happened according to His plan for our family. As the bunso (youngest child) of the family, I’m overjoyed to have witnessed the unfolding of God’s plan for my family members. Because of this move both my parents are happily retired, all my sisters have stable full-time jobs that bring them happiness, and finally our family has almost tripled because my sisters have their own families now with beautiful kids.
Although the Philippines will always be our home, Canada has quickly become a home away from home for my family. Here in Canada we have been welcomed with open arms and have been given amazing opportunities for personal growth. We continue to meet many wonderful people and have grown to really love the community. Here in Canada, we were able to realize and pursue many of our dreams. On July 1, 2017 my family joins hand-in-hand with the community in celebrating the 150th birthday of this beautiful nation. Canada, I am incredibly grateful for you: Happy 150th birthday!
Yvanne currently studies Independent Performance and Songwriting at Seneca College in Toronto, ON. Prior to Yvanne’s move, she completed a Business Administration degree (University of Winnipeg) and International Event and Wedding Planning Professional certificate (QC Career School). Above all, Yvanne is a big dreamer and is delighted to have the opportunity to share her thoughts and adventures. Search the hashtag #diaryofthedreamer on various social media to follow more of Yvanne’s journey.