Mei and her husband, Tony, made the exciting journey to Canada from Beijing in 2016. They both had worked in banking for more than 20 years and were looking for a different way of life.
“In Canada, you have the opportunity to learn everything you want to learn,” she says. “It was a really busy life for us in Beijing, and there was a lot more pressure compared to here. Most of your time would be spent in your company. People would work for a long time, sometimes even starting at seven or eight. I was so done with that.”
When the couple boldly stepped out of their comfort zones, they knew there was one thing they could count on: they would be welcomed into a country with a wealth of opportunities.
Mei decided to come to Canada on a student visa to study at Selkirk College, where she graduated with honours. Getting an education in Canada was important to her from a language practice perspective.
“The first thing I needed to do was learn to be fluent in English,” she says. “Language is really important because you need to make friends and be able to communicate with your friends. My English instructors supported me a lot. I still remember a sentence that my English instructor told me. They said, ‘it will be hard at first, but it will be easier at the end.’” Mei now speaks English beautifully.
When she was still in school, her experience in banking allowed her to work two part-time jobs: one as a customer service representative in a bank and the other in bookkeeping. Before graduating, she was offered a position as an accounting technician in a forestry management and consulting company. Now she works in public practice accounting, which allows her to work toward her CPA designation and spend more time at home. She also spends a lot of her time volunteering and giving back to her new community.
Mei enjoys the relationship dynamics of people living in Canada compared to Beijing. “We always say hi to our neighbours when we walk outside. People are always willing to help. This would never happen in Beijing. People there are just so busy.”
It was important for Mei and Tony to move to a place that allowed them more family time. Now they enjoy going on hikes together. “We spend a lot of time outside with my kids. It’s a really nice place to live. We have a spectacular mountain view. We have the Columbia River. We live in a nice, quiet community.”
Mei says that RNIP allowed her and Tony to get their permanent residency and has made an enormous impact on their family. “It’s a really great program for people like me who are not that young. When I started to study at Selkirk I was already 36 years old, and that’s not a good age to go with the Express Entry program. RNIP gave us the best opportunity to stay,” she explains.
Mei is one of the applicants that successfully made it through the West Kootenay RNIP program, a program that changes lives.