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The Immigration story of Karen Gonzalez (Ecuadorian Immigrant)

The Museum reviews and accepts donated personal or family memories and histories into its collection. As a learning institution, the accounts help us understand how individuals recollect, interpret, or construct meaning from lived experiences. The stories are not modified by Museum staff. The point of view expressed is that of the author and not that of the Museum.

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My name is Karen Najera ( Gonzalez) I was born and raised in Ecuador and when I was a little girl I had a dream of studying abroad, perhaps because my dad used to tell me stories about the time he was a student in France.

Years past and the idea of leaving my country never cross my mind again.

I was about 17 years old and about to start my last year of high school, when one day my mom and I were at the park and we noticed an advertisement looking for families to host Canadian University Students. I asked my mom to call just to find out what was all about and next thing we knew we were a hosting a student, his name was Darren.

Before I came to Canada I spent a year in the United States where I decided to look for Universities, my Canadian friend and I kept in touch and it was in one of those phone conversation that I told him that I was looking for Universities.
One day I received an application package from Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that it was my destiny to come to Canada. My application arrived a month after the registration deadline completely destroyed, however I got accepted into the program right away.

I arrived to Toronto on September 1st 1998; I was greeted by one of my Canadian friends and her family. it was a beautiful and sunny day; I remembered feeling excited and scared at the same time ; after all I had just left behind my family and my friends , my entire life was packed into two suitcases and one carry-on. It was late in the afternoon and I was exhausted and hungry, my first destination a hamburger place.

The Canadian Students that my family hosted in Ecuador, became my family when I arrived to Canada (not to mention the international students I met while in University) they took me around places and show me the beauty of their country. I spent my first Thanksgiving and Christmas with them.

Like I said before, it was my destiny to come to Canada, you see two weeks after I arrived and went o University I met my now husband , Carlos Gonzalez, who came from Colombia to Canada with his family in 1995 few years before me.

My application process was not difficult; it folded perfectly at the right time. Because I came on a student visa I had to visit an immigration officer soon after I graduated to extend my status in Canada, well Carlos and I were planning on getting married. We had two weddings!!! one in Canada in 2002 and one in Ecuador in 2003 with both our families and friends.
I received my permanent status right away and in 2005 we moved to Halifax because of work. I started working for Sobeys in January 3 2006 and that same year in December I received my Canadian Citizenship one month before my first daughter was born.

Family and friends are very important to us and every time we go back to either Ecuador or Colombia we make the most of it, we like to enjoy every single moment we have with our family, eat as much as we can and encourage our kids to develop relationships with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. We take them places where we grew up and show them the beauty of our countries, after all these are their roots. It is very important for us to remind our kids where they come from, why they are here and most importantly to remind them that they have family far away
Looking back, I think I have been very fortunate in how things turned out for me, I never would have thought that the first three words I heard when I arrived to Canada –“Welcome to Canada” would changed my life forever . Canada is my home and Ecuador is in my heart.