Remember just how good you have it

Becoming a Canadian citizen was one of the highlights of my life

As we move into a new year I would like this week’s column to be a departure from my regular financial writing. I am grateful for many things in my life and one of them is to be living in Canada. I believe that a country is defined not by it’s mountains, rivers, oceans or sunsets but rather by it’s people. As I look forward to a new year I wanted to express my thanks to Canada and the people that live within her.

My wife and I with our two daughters emigrated to Canada from South Africa in February 1998. We were in our mid-30s with our two girls aged two years and five months. Emigrating was an extremely emotional decision, imagine for one minute having to leave your Canada due to violent crime and corruption, you don’t really want to leave but you know that another country can provide you with a better life, safety and greater opportunities for your kids. You sell your home, cars and arrange for some furniture to be shipped. You leave family and friends behind and you are told by some people that you are joining the “chicken run.” You arrive with a few suit cases, not much cash and no job, but you arrive with hope, which is more valuable than anything you own.


We arrived in Vancouver on a dark and gloomy February day on a flight from London, England. We flew via London to break up the long trip to get to the other side of the earth, our first leg was Johannesburg to London. I remember us standing in the long line up waiting to go through immigration with our young family visibly tired from the long trip. A young customs lady sitting in an office noticed us, she walk over to an unused booth and called us over.

She processed our landed immigrant papers and looked up and said the three words that I will never forget “Welcome to Canada.” I almost reached over the counter to hug her but did not want to get arrested 10 seconds after officially becoming a landed immigrant. At that stage I did not know what Canada’s policy was with regards to hugging customs officials, quite frankly I still don’t know.

I do not know who the young lady was but she will never know how much her actions meant to us as a family going through a very difficult change in our lives, and this was the start for me in defining who Canadians are.

The first year in Canada was not easy. We had to use our savings to subsidize our income and there were definitely some days that we thought we should never have moved, but we persevered. We were surprised that Canadians did not treat us any differently because we were immigrants. We learned Canadians understood this was a land built by immigrants and some even admired us for making the bold move.

We became proud Canadian citizens in March 2002, which again was a pretty emotional and uplifting experience. My career break in Canada came in April 1999 when I was hired by Franklin Templeton Investments and I could once again do the job that I was familiar with prior to leaving South Africa. This was familiar territory for me and I excelled in my new job. In 2009 I got the opportunity to become a business owner and grabbed it with two hands and this is where I am today. From an immigrant’s perspective Canada is an incredible country with wonderful people. I have to just smile when I read or hear people complaining because I know that they have no idea how good they have it.

I would like to thank all Canadians for their assistance, compassion and understanding and for taking me and my family into your family, we will always be grateful to you.

Happy new year Canada.




Written by Stuart Kirk, CIM


Stuart Kirk is a Retirement Planning Specialist with Precision Wealth Management Inc. The opinions expressed are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Precision Wealth Management Ltd.  For comments or questions Stuart can be reached at or 250-954-0247.



Just Posted

Coombs farm auction returns April 28

CFI hosts 41st annual auction

Ballenas grad to perform opera and art songs in Parksville to fund Prague trip

UBC music student Juliana Cook was asked to study and sing in the Czech Republic

Qualicum Beach versus Parksville – who wins?

Councils could take part in first-ever lawn bowling challenge

Ravensong Waterdancers to get you in sync

Teams will perform 12 routines at watershow on April 28

Soccer Whalers trip 49ers 1-0 in high school clash

Ballenas now prepares for North Island championships

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

Party with extreme views on immigration running on Vancouver Island

Opposing candidate says National Citizens Alliance’s participation ‘highly problematic’

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Most Read