Eriko and Hazzel Delfin, who are from the Philippines, have always loved travelling and experiencing other cultures together. “Each year, we had a month of vacation we needed to use, so we used that time to travel to places like Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand. Travelling to Nepal especially had a major impact in our view of how we live our life. It made us realize no matter how high the mountains are, when you have the right set of determination and perseverance, you can surmount anything to achieve your goal.”
So when Eriko’s brother in Australia suggested they try international travel, they decided they were ready. Eriko got a job in Qatar, and Hazzel came with him. But in 2017, the couple began looking for a better place to grow some roots, preferably in a country that still offered lots of great places to explore. Qatar doesn’t provide permanent residencies (PRs), and the couple’s contracts and work permits meant they could be asked to leave at any moment.
Hazzel researched options in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, often using Google Maps Street View to check out her prospects. She did so much research that she could pinpoint the local McDonald’s before they’d even arrived in their current hometown of Castlegar. “Canada is so wide! We don’t have relatives here in the Kootenays, and it’s a pretty big launch. I’ve heard many stories from fellow Filipinos who moved here, especially those who came from the Middle East, so that’s where our inspiration came from,” Hazzel reflects.
Canada hasn’t let Hazzel and Eriko down, and they’ve had plenty of opportunities for more adventures together. The moment the couple arrived and had a chance to set down their luggage, they were joyously discovering their new home (right after a snowstorm). “We were walking in very thick snow,” says Hazzel. Eriko laughs and adds, “and wondering why nobody else was walking around.”
The couple have enjoyed tobogganing together and purchased ski goggles to prepare for their first ski lesson next winter! They also love to hike the many mountain trails nearby. In August, they even tried paragliding in Revelstoke for the first time!
Hazzel studied for a postgraduate degree in Accounting at Selkirk College on a student visa and found work in her field at multiple businesses after completing her coursework. Eriko immediately found a job in his field as an estimator at Venture Mechanical while on a temporary work permit. “The work environment at Venture is very good, and the people are very nice,” he says about his continued employment there. This initial time allowed the couple to get a feel for living in Canada before making a long-term decision.
“We love the place and the people,” Hazzel says. “Everyone is very accommodating, and there’s a lot of places to see,” Eriko adds.
When they knew Canada was their long-term dream, they turned to the West Kootenay Rural & Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) program to help them get their PRs. They’d heard of the program through one of their high school teachers in the Philippines.
“The program changed our lives big time,” says Hazzel. “We don’t have to worry about where we’ll go next or how to apply for extensions on work permits.” The couple are grateful to have received their PRs in October of 2022.
Eriko and Hazzel are beautiful examples of applicants who successfully made it through RNIP, a program that changes lives.