To our delight, the day we arrived in the country was also the first day of snow in Langley. Hubby and our girls had never seen it before and were so excited that they left immediately after breakfast the next day without wearing their jackets. Talk about “The cold never bothered me anyway.” Hahaha!
Anyway, Hubby was asked to report to work on Wednesday (January 15) so that he had a few days to adjust to the jet lag and take care of a few things. One of them was to apply for his Social security number (also known as SIN). This is important as a person cannot work in Canada without them. It also provides access to government programs and benefits.
All he had to do was go to the nearest Service Canada Center, fill out a form and show the required documents (original passport and work permit). That’s it! A SIN was immediately issued to him. He did not wait long and was not asked to return another day.
Once he had his SIN, he could open a bank account and apply for public health insurance known as MSP or MSP Medical Services Plan. These are essential for employees and eligible residents.
My husband needed one too local SIM number. My brother agreed to extend the service of his existing package to Hubby and we would pay him the corresponding bill every month.
Since he would be commuting to and from work, Hubby was advised to buy and load one Compass rose (similar to the NOL card in Dubai) and download the TransLink App so he could check the bus schedule and routes.
The next thing to do was Find a place to live. Our priority was an apartment or basement suite that was in a safe area and within walking distance of schools. We scoured Craigslist, Kijiji, Zumper, and FB Marketplace, sent inquiries to a number of owners, and visited various properties. It took a while but we finally found one to call home. We moved in on February 17th.
On my brother’s advice, and after seeing that it was important and cheaper for our family of five to get around easily, we made it bought a car. Not brand new as we couldn’t afford one yet. Just a used compact SUV that was within our budget. Car insurance is mandatory that we pay monthly.
Our personal items, which we sent by freight from Dubai, arrived in the first week of May. We should have received it a month early, but BC was in a state of emergency, hence the delay. Fortunately, our things were complete and in the condition in which we packed them. All 24 boxes were properly sealed and showed no evidence of tampering or tampering. nothing was missing, nothing was broken. Kudos to Zuhal Shipping & Logistic LLC, the company we used.
Because we no longer lived with my brother, Hubby had to do it Update all of his government records with our new address. His SIN, bank account, and MSP all had to provide the updated address so that he could do the next things that needed to be done for me and our children.
Our children and I had entered Canada on a visa, so we had to apply for my visa Open work permit and the children Temporary residence permit. These were carried out by the same agency Hubby’s company had processed his work permit with. I’m not sure if the processing time was impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it took us about 3 months to get it.
As soon as these were issued, he immediately applied for our MSPs, whose cards we had received after 3 months.
The process too Register our girls in the school district It took a while. Since Hubby was a foreign temporary worker (not a permanent resident or citizen), he had to submit a lot of documents. One of them was that Interim BC driver’s license. To get this he had to take that and insist Knowledge testwhat he did at the nearest ICBC driver’s license office. Here he also applied for one BC ID It’s a township pass. After completing all of the requirements, he had to make an appointment with the school district administration. Unfortunately they were closed partly because of the global health crisis and partly because of the school holidays, so we had to wait a while for them to reopen.
Two weeks after his appointment as a school district, the approval documents for Caila and Sophie were sent to the school near us. My husband then had to register our girls at school and show their passports and proof of our address.
Our daughters finally started school in Canada on April 27th. They were physically unable to go to school because of COVID-19. Classes and lessons were online through Microsoft Teams, so they couldn’t get up close and personal with their teachers or classmates.
I’m sure it was not easy for Caila and Sophie to adapt to a new curriculum after more than four months of “vacation” through distance learning. Fortunately, they got excited about studying and doing their assignments and got up early to take advantage of the free books that they could read online from the website they had access to. They also managed to make a few friends in their respective classes, chat with them, and get to know each other outside of “class”.
Before school started, one of the things our elders worried about was that they couldn’t go with it (because it was mid / end of the school year and she kept missing her friends and school in Dubai) so it was a relief for watching her make new friends in class, albeit online.
The school year ended on June 25th. The scores were accessed through a website portal. It’s summer now. Like the other parents, we’re waiting for the school district to announce whether online / distance learning will resume in September when the new school year starts, or whether students will physically go back to school, or whether it will be a mix of both alternate days of the week. We will see.
In summary, here are the things we (mostly my husband) had to do in order for us to settle in:
• Apply for a SIN (Social Security Number)
• Open a bank account
• Apply for MSP (Medical Services Plan)
• Get a local SIM card
• Buy a compass card and download the TransLink app
• Find a home and move in
• Buy a car and get auto insurance
• Update the government records with the new address
• Apply for the children’s temporary residence permit and my open work permit
• Apply for MSPs for me and the children
• Take a knowledge test and get your Interim BC driver’s license
• Apply for a BC ID
• Plan and pass the driving test to get the driver’s license
• Register children in the school district
• Receive and unpack our personal items sent from Dubai
Angry! I admit it was a bit overwhelming at first to start a new life in another country, especially considering there were so many things to do. But slowly and surely we managed to adapt to this place that we have now called home.
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