New Canadians celebrate all year long

For some immigrants, every day is Canada Day

Nikita Malhotra

Nikita Malhotra

New Canadians may not be the best people to ask about the excitement of Canada Day, as at least two local representatives are busy celebrating the country every day of the year.

Hyesoon “Haley” Park said they intend to check out the July 1 festivities, but it hasn’t been a big priority in previous years.

In Canada for about nine years, officially becoming a citizen last year, Park said she and her husband and two teenage sons are very proud Canadians who appreciate the opportunities the country provides.

Coming to Canada from Korea when her children were four and eight, she said they adjusted very quickly to the culture and now consider themselves more Canadian than Korean, while she and her husband had a bit harder time.

Similarly Harpal Malhotra and her husband brought their teenage daughters here from India six years ago for an education and she became a citizen five months ago.

They came for the opportunities the country could provide for her and her daughters.

Her daughters were at vulnerable ages, she suggested, 13 and 16, but they easily made friends and excelled in school.

They went to the local high school and her older daughter is now an honours biochemistry at the University of British Columbia. The younger is taking mathematics at Vancouver Island University.

A teacher for 20 years in India, Malhotra said she had to do much of her training again here in Canada but did eventually get a job in the same field, though has been mostly tutoring. 

She had travelled to some of the world’s major port cities with her husband who was in the merchant navy, so the culture shock wasn’t so bad coming from India directly to live in Nanaimo.

Park and her family also came directly to Nanaimo where a friend lived. For them it was a bit of a shock, especially coming from Seoul, South Korea, an urban area of over 20 million people. 

“Yeah I’m a city girl,” she said of the transition to practically rural Nanaimo.

They came to Canada on a one-year work permit and only planned to stay two or three years to learn English, but they ended up applying for permanent resident status.

“The children just grow up Canadian,” she said, pointing out her youngest son was a bit surprised to realize he wasn’t that comfortable speaking Korean on a visit there last year.

They are involved with the local Korean community, attending one of two Korean church services every Sunday, but actually appreciate trying to immerse in the wider culture.

According to Statistics Canada there are about 700 people of Korean decent in the regional district, most of them in Nanaimo, but Park said they don’t tend to stick together the same as they might in larger cities.

She said they like that Canada is such a diverse society and don’t like how Koreans just hang out with Koreans, or Chinese with Chinese, in some bigger cities.

Park did run into a similar immigrant problem as Malhotra — of not having her credentials recognized here. She had a university degree and worked in a bank in India but ended up cleaning houses and now works in a retirement home. 

She is far from bitter, however, excited to be able to offer her children the opportunities of being here.

“If you try very hard there are opportunities, it’s all about how much effort you make,” she said. “We work for our children.”

She does hope the government continues to provide chances for immigrants and she wishes they would actively encourage them to branch out and live in the wider community.

Both women have used the resources of the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society’s Immigrant Welcome Centre which will have a booth at Nanaimo’s Canada Day festivities in Maffeo Sutton Park. 

Visit the centre at 101 – 319 Selby Street, Nanaimo. From Parksville call 250-586-1122 or e-mail fo


Just Posted

(File photo)
The Parksville Civic and Technology Centre at 100 Jensen Ave. (PQB News file photo)
Parksville 2020 annual report now ready for public feedback

Documents can be viewed online; comments or questions to be submitted before noon on July 5, 2021

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased in Parksville

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews on scene at a boat fire near the boat ramp at Long Lake on Sunday, June 20. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Boat burns up on Nanaimo’s Long Lake, man and child unhurt

Jet skiers attempt to put out fire by circling around to spray water on burning boat

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)
Penticton heads to court over homeless shelter as BC Housing audit begins

The city was not satisfied with the response from Minister David Eby regarding the ongoing situation

People enjoy the sun at Woodbine Beach on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
BC Hydro assures customers it has ‘more than enough’ power to weather the heatwave

Despite an increase of pressure on the Western grid, blackouts are not expected like in some U.S. states

The number of skilled trades workers available is not enough to fill the current construction boom in Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Supply of skilled tradespeople can’t keep up to Vancouver Island construction boom

Thousands of positions will be needed by 2030, despite flow of Camosun trades students

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pilots say no reason to continue quarantines for vaccinated international travellers

Prime minister says Canada still trying to limit number of incoming tourists

Swanwick Ranch in Metchosin, featuring an award-winning home on 67 acres of property overlooking the ocean, recently sold for a record-setting, yet undisclosed amount. (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada photo)
Oceanfront home sells for highest price ever recorded in Greater Victoria

Listed at $14.1 million, Swanwick Ranch in Metchosin sold to an undisclosed buyer

This map outlines the area affected by the open burning prohibition. Via Coastal Fire Centre
Vancouver Island open fire prohibition takes effect June 23

Ban applies to both public and private land, includes fireworks

The price of gas is way up in many parts of Greater Victoria after a Monday afternoon surge sent it to 162.9 cents per litre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gas prices surge to 162.9 cents a litre at some Greater Victoria stations

Prices jumped up more than 10 cents Monday afternoon

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Most Read