Moving to Calgary, Life from a New Migrants Perspective
Canada has a worldwide reputation for its inclusive identity. Skilled workers are migrating here from all over, bringing their cultural traditions and heritage to a country that embraces the notion that different cultures should live together in harmony.
Canada has gone on record to say they need 1,000,000 new skilled migrants by the end of 2020 and Calgary has one of the easiest and most flexible Provincial Nomination Programs.
Now, with increased access to Canadian Immigration information, families are able to do their research and make the move to Canada with a better understanding of what the transition, and their new life, will be like.
So, when looking to start a life in Canada, where should you begin? Let’s take a look toward the west, in the prairie province of Alberta, at Canada’s third-largest city: Calgary.
As of 2018, Calgary was dubbed the fourth “most liveable city” by The Economist magazine. And with 28% of Calgarians being foreign-born, Calgary is known for embracing a multicultural identity, being the first north american city to elect a muslim mayor back in 2010.
One of the unique things about Calgary is its weather patterns. Because of its proximity to the mountains, the weather remains largely unpredictable. Don’t worry about the long term forecast, and just examine the weather on a day-by-day basis, as things tend to change quickly.
A dry climate, the wind keeps things relatively cool. The summers tend to be mild and the winters do get really cold. Expect snow – and a lot of it, but it’s rare to be able to build a snowman.
Because of the climate, the consistency of the snow stays fairly light and dry, a it’s not uncommon to see city workers cleaning the streets with a leaf blower, and the snow itself tends to come and go.
Winter in Calgary is synonymous with Chinook winds. The location of the city acts as a natural wind tunnel, funneling in warm winds from the pacific northwest.
You get to know the look of the “chinook arch”, a cloud formation that tells you a chinook is coming, and soon you will be enjoying spring-like warm weather for a couple days at a time, melting all the snow
and getting you outside in a t-shirt.
Choosing a school for your child in Calgary is largely dictated by the community in which you live. The public school system is organized by the province of Alberta and zoned according to proximity. Although schools themselves vary in quality (only slightly), most of the public schools are excellent – rivaling school systems worldwide.
Evenmore, Alberta as a province holds a mandate that firmly believes in the power of “early intervention”. There are fantastic publicly funded programs that look to support children between the ages of 2.5 and 6 that are demonstrating any kind of developmental delay.
This boost in support is known to result in better long term outcomes for these children, as they find more success as adults than those who did not receive early intervention services. Keep in mind, these services also include school-readiness services for students and families who are new to the country.
As Calgary has grown, families have moved out of the inner-city neighbourhoods and into the suburbs. Because of this, inner-city school populations have dwindled, with the suburban schools potentially facing overcrowding. To offset this, it has become increasingly common for students to face a longer commute time – bussing students from the suburbs and back into the inner-city schools.
In relation to the province of Alberta, Calgary is fairly isolated in the southwest. With the beautiful rocky mountains a short 45 minute car-ride away, you’ll find that many Calgarians escape to the mountains regularly.
Calgary as a city is fairly spread out and organized into quadrants – northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest. Housing tends to increase in cost as you move closer to the west, boasting gorgeous mountain views or as you hang around the inner-city / downtown core.
The northeast of Calgary presents itself as a more diverse quadrant, with the airport nearby housing tends to be more affordable, especially for young families.
Housing may become more affordable the further you get from the inner-city, but by contrast, transit quickly becomes less reliable. As such, the majority of calgarians drive – making for heavy traffic during commuting hours.
With C-train lines and public bussing, the city is looking to make things easier for citizens by incorporating a variety of complementary “park and ride” lots strategically placed outside the downtown core. Moreover, within the downtown core, the c-train lines are free of charge to make use of.
With over 159 languages being spoken in the city, it is almost rare to come across someone
who was born and raised in Calgary. An economy that has traditionally been dependent on
the success of the oil industry, Calgarians have learned to be resourceful, entrepreneurial in
spirit, extremely kind-hearted and community-minded.
After a flood jeopardized the city back in 2013, the people of Calgary came together in a big way. Ever since, the city has made it a priority to bring people together through the implementation of “Neighbour Day” where there are events happening all over the city celebrating a reclaimed community spirit.
Historically, Calgary was known for farming – particularly agriculture and cattle ranching. To highlight this, a group of farmers got together to put on a small “agriculture show” in the early 1900s.
This show, or the Calgary Stampede as it’s now known, has become world-renowned putting Calgary on the map for what is now sloganed as, “the greatest show on earth”.
Every year the city transforms, trading business-casual attire for plaid shirts and cowboy hats. Even if the concerts, rodeo, or creative carnival foods are not your “thing”, be sure to take part in any of the free pancake breakfasts that happen none stop all over.
Above all, the city of Calgary understands how overwhelming it can be to transition to a new city – let alone a new country. There are so many services available to help you make the transition a smooth one. From language to employment training, children’s programming and more – this city is set up to help you find your place, with someone available to ensure you ask the right questions.