“I would like to say that, for others, if you want to move, you can move. If you have difficulties, they will make you stronger. Don’t be afraid. Just do it, and everything else will happen for you.” This advice, from Ilshat Khasanov, is for anyone who is considering immigrating to Canada like he did.
Ilshat, his wife Iliuza, and their six-year-old son, Insaf, came to Canada in September 2021. Originally from Bashkortostan, a small republic in Russia, they had spent two and a half years living in the Czech Republic before their immigration.
The couple started dreaming about coming to Canada in 2015, although Iliuza admits she’s been dreaming about North America since her childhood. “For example, the culture, I was so impressed with Christmas and all that stuff. So we dreamt about it a lot,” she says. “We thought it would be better for our kid to be more multicultural. Here in Canada, he has friends here from China, the Philippines, India and Jamaica!”
Iliuza and Ilshat both add that their home country’s economic and political climates were also important reasons for moving, and they hoped the West Kootenay could provide them with a more comfortable life.
After pouring hours of research into how they could live here permanently, Ilshat and his family found the West Kootenay Rural and Northern Immigrant Pilot (RNIP) program through his employer at Sutco, where he works as a truck driver.
“At first, I missed the Czech Republic a little bit because I knew where to go to do certain jobs and solve issues. Here I didn’t know anything. But now I feel like here is home, and I don’t want to go back to the Czech Republic or Russia,” says Ilshat, adding that he enjoys his job but says it requires a higher level of attentiveness on the winter roads compared to what he was used to in the Czech Republic. Don’t worry Ilshat, the Canadians reading this can sympathize!
Iliuza has a casual job as a hostess at the Chameleon Hotel. She boasts that it gives her plenty of time to make new friends and opportunities to keep practicing her English. She has other friends she’s made in Castlegar and says it feels like she’s known them her whole life.
“We’re always laughing, and they’re so supportive,” she says affectionately. “We’re always discussing something interesting and getting to know each other better. I can’t stop being impressed by people’s kindness here.”
The family says that they still can’t believe they get to live here permanently and that the best part about RNIP is how fast the program worked for them to obtain their work permits and permanent residency (PR). It only took six short months after arriving to get their PR status (due to their diligence as well!), which they celebrated the same week that Iliuza got her driver’s license.
“This immigration pilot [RNIP] is so cool,” says Iliuza. “We are so grateful to our coordinator, Erin Rooney. She’s so supportive. She’s the best. She always answered all of our questions.”
Ilshat and his family are a great example of an applicant that successfully made it through RNIP, a program that changes lives.