Monday, 13 December 2010

On being a migrant

Having successfully immigrated into Canada, I'm struck with the changes we need to go through having gone from being 'Temporary residents' to 'Permanent Residents', a status which needs renewal every five years, unless you wait until eligible for citizenship and go for that.

Everything is new. You are given a permanent Social Insurance Number which means you aren't reliant on the one job any more, but then you have to dash around updating Driving licences, health insurance registration, and a whole heap of other things. Always with the creeping sensation that you've missed a trick somewhere. Creditworthiness needs to be reinforced with a 'major purchase'. For us this has meant a new car. Registration with all sorts of agencies designed to help new migrants, but which only kick in when you become a 'Permanent Resident'. If you're only on a work permit they can't add you to their stats. In a way this makes us feel like we're entering the country all over again.

Although Mrs S and I are delighted with our new status, we're still left with a sensation of "Okay, what's next?" When dealing with officialdom. There's nothing intrusive apart from the smoking ban, and most issues are dealt with as a matter of courtesy. The North American 'Point and shoot' style of driving still bemuses. Even most of our local population of down and outs are polite to the point where you feel embarrassed not to throw them a couple of bucks. Everywhere, pedestrians carrying insulated cups of coffee carefully held in front of them like protective amulets.

There's an odd disconnected air to it all, and all the certainties I'm used to dealing with have gotten fuzzy round the edges and somehow much bigger. Like we've finally been let into the party, which we thought would be a small 'do' of maybe fifty or sixty and finding ourselves in a happy chattering crowd of thousands.

We'll get used to it shortly.

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