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‘It’s just a question of opening our eyes’: The not-so-secret recipes to helping newcomers thrive in small-town Canada

July 14, 2023

By Toronto Star |

It was as difficult as you can imagine for Doriane Aurelle Etemgoua and her family to leave behind Douala, Cameroon’s largest city, for the promise of a nursing job among the 7,000-plus souls of La Sarre, Que.

Officials in the region, near Quebec’s western border with Ontario, lured Etemgoua and several dozen other African nurses, with the offer of jobs — part of a grand plan to fill critical labour shortages that had forced the closure of La Sarre’s obstetrics ward among other health services, the type of shortages now being seen in many parts of this country.

But first, Etemgoua, who has a master’s degree in public health and left a good job in the pediatric emergency ward of a hospital, would have to go back to school for 10 months to prepare for provincial nursing exams that would allow her to practise in Quebec.

Her immigrant experience has been one of shock: the shock of leaving a city of nearly three million people for a town with just three main streets; the shocking temperatures of her first Canadian winter; and the sticker shock from things such as taxes and tips, which stand out when one is waiting to return to full-salary status and to profit from a new life.

But the Germans say that love goes through the stomach, and it might be true of immigration settlement, too.

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