Fernando and Carolina’s dream to immigrate to Canada from Brazil began in 2009 when they found themselves driving a collective 10,000 kilometers each month to work for their own company in Brazil. “There wasn’t a lot of time for family, and we started to rethink things. We basically had two young boys growing up without our presence at home,” says Fernando, referring to their two sons.
The couple was meticulous about choosing a city that offered a specific kind of school for their kids, the freedom to enjoy outdoor activities together, a strong sense of community, and opportunities to experience all four seasons. “Nelson captured everything we wanted, including harmonious work and family time,” says Carolina.
Nelson hasn’t let them down. Not only does the family get to spend time skiing, biking, and canoeing together, but the boys have grown up in a tight-knit community where their safety has never been in question. “An important part of raising kids is giving them autonomy to make decisions. It’s challenging if you’re in a place where you can’t let them do things by themselves because of safety,” says Carolina, reflecting on their experiences in Brazil.
The family’s connections with the people of Nelson have been strong since the very beginning. They were instantly given help finding housing and learning the Nelson ropes and made strong bonds within the city’s blossoming Brazilian community.
Fernando was once a rock climbing instructor and graphic designer and both himself and Carolina have worked as virtual facilitators for over 25 years. Fernando’s first Canadian job was the community director at their boy’s school, Nelson Waldorf School. “John Leishman was the business director at the school at the time,” says Fernando. “We designed processes and streamlined many things and had a lot of fun together.”
The couple went on to work for John’s company, Tursa Group, a consulting and IT services company and they started working on a branch of the business called Virtual Facilitation. Having first-hand experience with Fernando’s knack for big ideas, John recruited Fernando and Carolina to help businesses step into the online environment with digital solutions. “We’ve done consulting for 25 years,” says Carolina. “Now we get to do the same thing we’ve always loved.”
After years of growing roots in Nelson, the family applied for their permanent residencies (PRs) through the BC Provincial Nominee Program. Long before the paperwork had gone through, Erin from the West Kootenay Rural & Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) program approached them at the ski hill and shared information about RNIP with them.
“When Erin told us that RNIP could be a more streamlined pathway to PR, we immediately jumped lanes,” says Fernando. Carolina adds, “We fit the RNIP criteria very easily because we already did a lot of volunteer work and were so connected with the Nelson community. RNIP embraced those factors in ways that others didn’t.”
Erin went on to provide immense support for the family. “We could always send an email or call, and she would check on things. Even when she didn’t have answers, she would give us hope and tell us to hold on tight,” Fernando says affectionately. “With the other program, we had no clue what was going on and no access to information. We stayed in a void of uncertainty. I think the biggest difference with RNIP was that we weren’t just a number.”
Fernando and Carolina are great examples of applicants that successfully made it through RNIP, a program that changes lives.