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  1. So here I am (South Africa) In my 30’s, 2 young kids, freshly back from a December (check it out) vacation in Ontario region. We’ve been toying with this idea of leaving South Africa for some time and officially made the decision now. I’ve finely combed the CIC site numerous times and completed all those possible eligibility for EE forms and am now just starting the process - paid and booked our IELTS last night and know I have a mountain ahead of me. Id like to hear from people who have already climbed the mountain or who are already much further along in the process as we are If you could give 1 or 2 pieces of advice to yourself when you started the process what would it be? What mistakes did you make, what do you wish you knew sooner
  2. tanchett

    Life works in mysterious ways...

    When I wrote my first blog post in October, I had every intention of continuing to detail every step of our process on this platform. I hoped that it would prove helpful to others and also, that sharing my fears and concerns would help keep me sane. Funny how things don't always go according to plan. If you read my first post, you'll remember that I was at that all-too-familiar stage of doubt. Doubts about why we're doing this, doubts about whether we can. And then - something completely unexpected happened that threw our lives into absolute chaos. So there we were, getting all our documents in order and all the boxes checked before submitting our application. Our WES documents were complete, we'd done better than expected on the IELTS - all was going our way. We'd made a booking for our medicals to be done in Pretoria, with no real concerns for the outcome. Aside from a previous, but treated, heart issue with my husband, my 7-year old son and I were in almost perfect health. How wrong we were. Looking back now, and as crazy as it may sound, we have nothing but our Canadian PR application to thank for saving our son's life. Without it, we would probably not have noticed that something was wrong until it was too late. Within ten minutes of seeing my son, the amazing doctors at Hatmed were able to sense that something was not quite right. To this day I still ask myself, "how could we not have noticed?" What followed was a weeks worth of appointments, MRIs and tests. For the first time in months, our Canadian application wasn't even a thought. Without going into too much of detail, it was eventually discovered that my son had a large, extra-rare type of tumor growing inside his spine. It had probably been growing for years. We had no idea. He presented no previous symptoms - just a healthy, normal little boy. Within the space of two weeks, we had found a specialist, completed his surgery and were on the long road to recovery. It doesn't sound like much as I write it down, but there are no real words to describe the rollercoaster of emotions that we went through during that period. Life, in a sense, stopped. Canada, South Africa - none of it mattered anymore. We were just constantly thankful that we started the process to begin with - without it, we never would have known. Life works in mysterious ways. So where are we now? I'm happy (ecstatic, panicked, stressed out, over the moon) to report that this morning we received our golden e-mail. We submitted our application in December 2017. It's been a long, difficult, life-changing road to get us here and we'll forever be thankful to the long list of people who helped us along the way, who held our hands and wiped our tears when it all got too difficult - who reminded us that it all brought us here. Canada - we're here, we're healthy, we've got so much life to look forward to. We'll be seeing you soon.
  3. MaryJane

    Citizenship Applications 2017

    So I'm starting this thread for the peeps applying for citizenship this year or late 2016. If you're still holding on in the process, do join in. To date, I have not submitted our application...but soon. Slowly gathering everything together. And that almost $2k price tag is an ouch! What is the citizenship timeline nowadays? I know CIC says it's about 12 months, but somebody with recent experience could shed more light on this. @Wolverine, was yours around 6 months? Any tips, suggestions or words of encouragement from former applicants (now citizens) would be much appreciated.
  4. Darren Vermaak

    South African in South Korea

    Warm/Cold greetings, I am currently located in South Korea. And I am in the process of applying for an Express Visa. I sent out my degrees to WES last week and I am writing my IELTS Test on 03/03/2018. My question is - will it be possible to get the process done in South Korea with assistance from my parents back home or would it be necessary/advised that I should go back to South Africa? Lekker week and thanks for any information! Darren
  5. Find a job in canada - how to make it happen. This video (a little lengthy - 45 minutes - but oh so worth it) flies in the face of any misconceptions you think you have about jobs in Canada. If this video DOES NOT teach you why immigrants find getting jobs so hard, NOTHING EVER WILL! (in my humbled opinion anyway) Look, Listen, Learn. You will be richly rewarded above your wildest dreams if you are struggling with employment in Canada http://www.youtube.c...h?v=LhA3zeELPzc (not sure how to insert those fancy youtube videos like others do) Remember: ​If Opportunity doesn't knock, BUILD A DOOR!
  6. MaryJane

    www.cic.gc.ca

    In case you missed it... www.cic.gc.ca has moved! Our constant accompanying website all these years has now taken up a new address.
  7. MaryJane

    MosaiCanada150 Gatineau 2017

    If you haven't been, you might wanna pop by Parc Jacques Cartier in Gatineau and see these beauts. Park entrance is free. The exhibit is on from June 30 to October 15, 2017 (Thanksgiving). http://english.mosaicanada.ca It made me feel like I just stepped into an Edward Scissorhands masterpiece.
  8. tanchett

    To new beginnings...

    What are we doing? This is the question that runs through my head most days. When it's been a long day and I pop off to the shops on the way home from my comfortable job because I can't find the energy to dig through my mess of a freezer for something to cook. When my mum offers to babysit my son on Friday night so that the hubby and I can enjoy a date night (which is just a fancy way of saying we lie on the couch in our pajamas and binge watch whatever's on Netflix). When the entire family has a braai and we play 30 Seconds until our stomachs hurt from all the laughing. Those are the moments when I stop and look around and think, what are we even doing? Can I give this all up? And then the guilt comes trip trapping on my door. Life's easy here and comfortable but I know what the end goal is. My mind knows why we're doing this, my heart sometimes puts up a fight. Still, I long for car trips that don't include me scouring every inch around that robot (traffic light) before I dare to stop my car. Trips to coffee shops where I don't have to make sure I can physically feel my handbag at all times. Days when I don't get snippy with my seven year old for taking too long to get out of the car in the mall parking lot - just in case someone is watching and ready to pounce. My son's seven and so full of innocence and wonder. He has big dreams of being a robotic engineer even though I think he no idea what that really means. I close my eyes and see a day when he finishes high school having worked his little heart out, only to not be accepted into the university he wants to attend. I think even further to the day he's qualified and interviews for a job he's perfect for, that he will never ever even be considered for. And that's when the question arises - what are we even doing? Am I just being a paranoid mum? Do we have what it takes to make it through this? Is it normal to feel this way or is it smooth sailing for people wanting to leave? So here we are. We've spent years researching countries we could maybe get into, with no luck. Canada was always the mirage in the window, beautiful but untouchable. Then the Express Entry changes came into effect, and here we find ourselves: ITA received, application in the process of being completed. This forum has been an eye-opener. So many amazing stories of strength and perseverance and hope. It's exactly what we need during this time when we question our every decision. We're ready for this. Ready to face every hardship that gets thrown our way. Ready to start from the bottom. Ready to fight to make it work. To new beginnings... To new adventures.
  9. MaryJane

    Canada Child Benefit

    Child benefits will change starting July 2016, subject to Parliamentary approval. The new Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is tax-free and replaces the current child benefits (Canada Child Tax Benefits CCTB, National Child Benefit Supplement NCB, and the Universal Child Care Benefit UCCB). The CCB is targeted to those who need it the most. There are 2 main factors that determine how much you will receive: - the number of children in your care and - your family net income You can get up to: - $6400 per year ($533 per month) for each child under the age of 6 - $5400 per year ($450 per month) for each child aged 6 to 17 - an additional $2730 per year if your child qualifies for the disability amount Families with less than $30000 in family net income will receive the maximum benefit. As adjusted family net income increases, the benefit is reduced until it reaches zero. For more info, visit canada.ca/canada-child-benefit For estimates, use this calculator - cra.gc.ca/benefits-calculator For mobile access, visit cra.gc.ca/mobileapps
  10. MaryJane

    Canadian Cities Compared

    Found this on FB - http://www.livingin-canada.com/compare-canadian-cities.html The information is a little dated but still interesting to see the comparison.
  11. Vancouver. It’s the afternoon and you take a stroll downtown. You notice a certain smell. In fact it’s hard to avoid the sweet scent of marijuana. It drifts through the sunny streets like an unconscious cloud, eager to throttle addicts and adolescents. In many ways, the west coast (of Canada) is seen as a little more mellow, crammed with hippies, riddled with bohemians, gypsies and stoners...of course. You decide how rebellious you are at the end of the day. When I first heard I was moving to Vancouver and closer to consuming some high quality Mary Jane, my ‘inner rebel’ leapt up and gave the addict an invisible hi-five. It was similar to the feeling when you may win a prize of some kind, and you hear the announcement crackling over the intercom. Now I’m going on a tangent. Lemme fast forward to my first encounter with this cloud. I arrived in the blustery wind and rain. This was spring. The first night I booked myself into the cheapest hostel in Vancouver. Yes, you heard me. I get into this burnt out building. I walk up the staircase. The first thing that I notice is graffiti, along with a collection of gouges, scrapes and manic doodles. I get to the counter and pay for two nights. The rotund guy behind the counter doesn’t even ask for my ID, all he needs is a $10 deposit for the key to my room. I hand him the money and he gives me a brown sheet for my bed and an old, gross blanket to keep me warm. I never receive a pillow. Soon after arriving one thing has become apparent, nothing in this place is clean. My first night in Vancouver I was jet-lagged, in a grimy hostel and alone. (I flew in with my parents, but they had gone to live in another part of the city). I felt like a turtle who’d been flipped on his back. I was scared and bewildered with only about $100 to my name. Another thing...who do you trust? The don’t-talk-to-strangers mantra your parents banged into your head from birth, vanishes quickly. Anyway, in my nervous state evening approaches and the anxiety quivering inside me propels my legs forward. I search for a place to buy food. I remember this next part so clearly I can almost reach out and touch it. I walk around a local park downtown and green clouds hit me. It’s a tempting scent and my first idea is to follow the smell because ultimately every stoner gets the munchies. This plan fails because I end up at a coffee shop of sorts where everyone inside can bring their own product (i.e. marijuana, of course) and light up. Ultimately they order some cake and other sugary treats staring at the patrons behind glass doors. After exploring the place and talking to the stoned barista, I remember I’m hungry and leave. I end up asking people too many questions and I soon arrive at a grocery store. Days after this happened a bizarre thought crept over me - it was easier to buy pot than it was to find food. I kid you not. You have to walk past a pub to see people drinking, but smelling is for free. Most days you don’t have a choice. For those reading this, I can sense that unspoken question on your lips...have you tried it? Yup, I have. I might be more accurate if I said the weed smoked me. I prefer operating with a clear mind and I’ve stayed away from it for many months. I also find it interesting that there is a certain amount of denial that goes with every stoner. I’ll give you an example… There are many marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver. Let me rephrase that, medical marijuana dispensaries. The deal is you first have to go the the doctor, complain about some ache or pain or symptom and receive a letter. You take that letter to certain dispensaries who will issue you with a plastic card with a picture of you and your mug on it. This becomes your golden ticket to bounce from dispensary to dispensary at your leisure. Now where does the denial part kick in? Well, medical marijuana...ahem, er, really? That’s like the doctor prescribing cigarettes because you have a cough. Okay, perhaps not the best analogy, I admit. There are tons or dispensaries, but I don’t see many sick people. Yes there may be some medical benefits that come from this plant, although the dispensary business I see largely as a “smokescreen” for recreational users to get a free pass. I don’t get it, maybe that means I’m not a stoner then? If there’s one thing I’d indulge in, that would be copious amounts of craft beer. Chances are it won’t offend the person I’m sitting next to, and I’m more likely to find new friends. But wait there’s more… After being in the country for a little more than a year, a new president came to power. I’m told this was a good thing because Stephen Harper - the previous guy - was an annoying sod. So the new party in power are called The Liberals (or Liberal Party, don’t quote me because I avoid politics like the plague). In addition to them being less like Harper, they also claim to legalize pot over the whole of Canada. This time they’re pushing for the recreational use of the drug. Part of me also thought “is the law really the thing stopping [the stoners] in the first place?” Some say it takes one to know one. Hmmm. Okay folks, it’s time to muscle up and find a conclusion of sorts. This post is looking more like an anti-marijuana rant every minute. Maybe it is? Perhaps the best way to end this is with a poem I wrote about that first filthy hostel I stayed in. Here’s it goes: clouds i turn the doorknob walk up old stairs bruised and worn down knuckles of a fighter “the cheapest hostel in Vancouver” the advert said i agreed out of ignorance i pay for two nights the man behind the counter slaps down a key hands me a pillowcase and a brown sheet he turns to leave but stops “you need a blanket?” i nod and receive something a dog slept in for days i walk into the tv room a cloud of marijuana cloaks me like bad weather five guys stare at the screen one darts a look at me then back to the screen he sips his beer and shrugs i wave briefly only one of them notices a young Chinese guy lights up a bong a thick cloud builds up in the glass chamber he inhales empties out the unconscious tunnel he coughs and moans his thick red hair too limp to dance he stands up fondles his bankie like an old photograph he wanders out the room looking for food Blog post: http://wp.me/p7AHk-ue
  12. MaryJane

    Are You a Statistic?

    Census Day was May 10, 2016. If you had missed the "deadline", don't worry, there's still time. Stats Canada will send out reminders in the following weeks to remind you to complete your census if you have not done so already. Mandatory for all Canadian residents, what I did not know was that there was a $500 fine or imprisonment of 3 months if one did not participate. So if you have not filled out your form........ http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/mandatory-census-mail-out-1.3557511 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/still-time-to-fill-out-2016-census-1.3575905
  13. http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1041109 Excerpts: March 17, 2016—Ottawa, ON–Attracting skilled francophone workers to Canada and encouraging them to settle in communities outside of Quebec is the goal of a new International Mobility Program stream that will launch on the first day of June. Starting June 1, 2016, the Mobilité Francophone stream will exempt employers from the Labour Market Impact Assessment process when they hire francophone workers in managerial, professional and technical/skilled trades occupations from abroad to work in francophone minority communities outside of Quebec. The goal of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is to have francophone newcomers make up at least 4% of all economic immigrants settling outside of Quebec by 2018. The overall target for francophone immigration outside Quebec is 4.4% by 2023
  14. The government of Canada has set an ambitious target in its 2016 Immigration Levels Plan, aiming to welcome up to 305,000 new permanent residents over the course of this year across a range of economic, family, and refugee/humanitarian immigration categories. This is the first time in many years where a Canadian government has set a target of 300,000 or greater. The 2015 immigration level target was 280,000. Economic Programs (includes PNP, FSW, FST, CEC, etc.) - it is between 151,200 to 162,400 Family Class (includes spouses, parents and grandparents, etc.) - it is between 75,000 - 82,000 Refugees, Protected Persons, Humanitarian - 53,800 - 60,600 For further breakdown and more of the story, click here - http://www.canadavisa.com/news/canada-aims-to-welcome-up-to-305-000-new-permanent-residents-in-2016-across-all-immigration-categories.html
  15. MaryJane

    Canada Tax Season 2015 (Filing 2016)

    Compliments of the season to one and all!! 2 days left in the 2015 tax year and here are some important dates to remember: RESP, TFSA, charitable donation contributions - by December 31, 2015 RRSP contributions - by February 29, 2016 Most tax-filers' deadline to submit tax returns - May 2, 2016 (because April 30 is a Saturday) Self-employed individuals' deadline to submit tax returns - June 15, 2016
  16. MaryJane

    Volunteering in Canada

    Volunteering is part and parcel of the way of life in Canada. In school, it is encouraged (and mandatory in Ontario) for high school kids to spend at least 40 hours doing community service. Now that doesn't sound too enticing. In fact, it sounds like you've done something wrong and are now required to do the hours but it's far from it. Aside from the ultimate rewarding experience of giving you a sense of purpose, some other benefits of volunteering are: - great way to gain work experience - meet new people, future network possibilities - be with like-minded people; make new friends - helping someone and/or the community and/or a cause There are many ways to volunteer and there are many places to volunteer with. All that's ever asked of you is your time. Do you volunteer? And what has been your experience? Or are you thinking about it?
  17. jonathan.b

    US and Canadian timezones

    Hey Canucks Recently a friend of mine was asking me if I was in the same time zone as Colorado. I had no clue and did a quick google and found this handy chart (http://newtimezones.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/North_America_Time-Zones.jpg). Hopefully this helps some of you too!
  18. I prefer to prepare for the worst and/or familiarize myself with the negatives of any situation beforehand. In this way it does not hit you too hard and you already have a plan of action in place. I am not a pessimist, but a realist. The good and positives things will look after themselves. People who have been staying there for a while will obviously be able to give more input than us other pleps. It can be items that affect your everyday life and is purely a Canadian phenomenon. So here goes: I will make a list and you are welcome to add as we go along - I will update from time to time. The most obvious first: Cold long winters - harsh temps (location dependent) Shoveling snow from your driveway in winter Cabin fever in winter No garden engineers No house cleaning fairies Cant buy raw milk High insurance premiums Small road signs / no cat's eyes / bad road lighting Cost of food in general Pricey art galleries No fences higher than 1m allowed (area dependent?) Bonkers road rules Weird label pricing rules/ways - never shows all the cost upfront Low water level toilets - (non floater friendly) Telemarketers Daylight savings time Imperial unit system Capiche? Ok, gooi.
  19. Well, here it is....a Canadian bucket list! http://www.internationaltravellermag.com/north-america/canada/100thingstodoincanadabeforeyoudie/all/ Which one tickles your fancy?
  20. Not necessarily applicable to Canadian passport holders already. This is mostly for those other passport holders who require to apply for a visa to enter the US and are issued form I-94 every 6 month's worth of trip to the US. You can actually track your coming and going into the US for the last 5 years with this website - https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home I think this could be handy when we're ready to calculate residency days for citizenship. Just thought to share.
  21. MaryJane

    Autumn/Fall in Canada

    Spurred by someone's colourful trees in PEI, I've decided to post about fall in Canada Here are some reasons I love fall (in no particular order): 1. Forever chasing the perfect fall colours - they're everywhere!!! Haven't quite gotten the perfect one. I seem to have started a bit late this year, but there is always next year... 2. Extra hour of darkness - Daylight Savings here we come (more sleep yay?) 3. Hoodies and jeans 4. Thanksgiving 5. Pumpkin - everything.... (from décors to pies to lattés to faces) 6. Raising the dead on full moon (Halloween is huuugggeeee here) 7. Getting lost in corn mazes (be a maze runner for a day) 8. Curling up on the couch watching Fall Premieres (binge-watch, yeah!!!) 9. All the more reason to stop by Starbucks.... and have coffee, cocoa, latté, mocha 10. Walk in the woods among fallen leaves
  22. MaryJane

    Canada Election 2015

    Canadians are going to the polls on October 19, 2015 to have their say about the federal government. I have yet to join this elite club (voters) but would like to start now to figure out "who's who in the zoo". I'm sure there are other newcomers who might be interested. As a future Canadian, I feel I need to be somehow invested in this. Here's a link to a CBC news article, with videos of the leaders of different parties, when the election campaign news broke last Sunday, August 2. Definitely not an all-encompassing view of Canadian politics, but it's a start. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-election-2015-stephen-harper-confirms-start-of-11-week-federal-campaign-1.3175136
  23. Here are some interesting facts about Canadian Thanksgiving for the oldies and the newbies.... http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/09/24/thanksgiving-canada-history-four-things_n_5877430.html
  24. JessiF

    Canads vs France

    Canada vs France tonight 1 October 2015 20h00 (GMT+2) Can anyone predict the score? Canada have never won a pool in the entire RWC history, wonder if they have a fighting chance this year? Their odds are 2500-1 lol. Ranking 17th in the world... Lets go Canada!
  25. Interesting to see what the top advertised occupations per province/region were. Original Workopolis article here - http://www.workopolis.com/content/advice/article/by-the-numbers-canadas-ten-hottest-job-markets-2015/ Wondering where the jobs are in Canada? Our friends over at Express Employment Professionals have researched and ranked the country’s top job markets by cross referencing the amount of available jobs with the population data for fifty towns and cities. Their second annual Hot Job Markets Survey also compares this year’s results with those of 2014. Unsurprisingly the most notable difference is that the Western job markets. For example Calgary dropped from fourth place last year to 19th in 2015. Of course it still fares better than Toronto or Montreal, neither of which cracked the top 50 at all. A suburb of Montreal, St. Hyacinthe gets top marks as the country’s best job market with 8.5 job ads per 1,000 people. Two other towns around Montreal are also hot job markets: Drummondville and Brossard. Regina, SK and Grande Prairie, AB round out the top five. Here are Canada’s top ten hottest job markets Saint-Hyacinthe DrummondvilleG Grande Prairie Brossard Regina Wood Buffalo North Vancouver (CY) Edmonton Blainville-Sainte Thérèse Mississauga At the bottom of the list averaging about three open jobs per 1,000 people: Oakville Surrey Waterloo Windsor Belleville Read the full report with the complete ranking of 50 regions from Express Employment Professionals. (Opens as a PDF.)