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Creating A New Life and Maintaining Your Career

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not
 necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

Manitoba has a flourishing Filipino Community of approximately 83,000. A region that has seen significant growth in that community is the Pembina Valley, a rural area south of Winnipeg.   

However, it hasn’t always been that way.

Jewel Miralles White is part of the Morden Filipino community, and the community she knows today had yet to be established when she first immigrated.

“I moved to Canada much like everyone else, wanting to start a new life and provide for my family better. My parents are ageing, and I thought I probably should give it a shot.”

A practicing veterinarian in her home country, Jewel found a job in Canada at a pig barn, working there while studying to achieve her certification to practice veterinary here. Feeling a little trepidation about Canada’s fast-moving aspect, Jewel was pleased when her job brought her to Steinbach, Manitoba, a rural community that moved slower than the country’s larger centres.

The Christian population in the “bible-belt” of Manitoba was another appealing aspect for Jewel.

According to Asiansociety.org, “The Philippines proudly boasts to be the only Christian nation in Asia. More than 86 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, 6 percent belong to various nationalized Christian cults, and another 2 percent belong to well over 100 Protestant denominations.”

“I was able to adjust quite quickly because there was already an established Filipino group. A few months later, when I moved to Morden, I was only one of five maybe. There were very few of us, and I didn’t know anyone.”

Starting her job in Winkler, Manitoba, Jewel didn’t have a place to stay searching online for housing opportunities. Although nervous about moving into the home of someone’s parents, Jewel gave it a shot, which would turn out to be advantageous as the person who offered a place to stay would eventually become her husband.

Since those early steps of building a life in the region,  the Filipino population has grown tremendously. Jewel estimates around 200 Filipinos are currently living in Morden, with a similar community in Altona. In Winkler, the number of Filipino residents is closer to 400.

For Jewel, one of the most prominent tools she used to build her life here was the dedication to continuing her veterinary career here in Canada.

“I grew up in a province around 20 kilometres from Manilla. Being a province, I lived a rural life, and although my mother was a government employee, we had bigs in our backyard to supplement our income. I helped my mom raise the pigs, so when I was thinking about what I would like to do for a living, I decided to become a veterinarian. When I moved out here, I couldn’t practice as I did back home. It can be easy to give up and forget about your career, but if it truly was your passion you have to go for it.”

For anyone starting fresh in a new city and a new country, Jewel would encourage them to get involved in their community. By volunteering or getting involved in other immigration events, building a new life won’t feel so daunting.

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