In partnership with South Okanagan Immigrant Community Services, Castanet Penticton is publishing the stories of 14 local multicultural champions from 10 countries this year, once a month.
Pexildah Chilufya readily admits that when she first came to Canada she wasn’t happy. Not because she didn’t like Canada but because of what she left behind. She had many friends in her homeland of Zambia and in the United Kingdom, where she lived for 18 months. But when her parents came to Canada she decided to tag along. It was a friend, who she describes as her ‘spiritual mother’ that eventually convinced her that Canada would be a good place to be.
“She told me, you will love it. Canada is very clean with lots of opportunities. She was right. You get to be where you want to be. I’ve enjoyed my experience, so far. I’m making moves forward. It may be slow but I can see I’m making progress. Canadians are good, they make you feel like you belong.”
Pexildah first settled in Kamloops with her parents. The 28 year old, took a course as a health care assistant and got a job at Mariposa Residential Care Centre in Osoyoos where she now lives. She enjoys her work but does find it a bit challenging.
“I work on the dementia unit. Most of my patients have Alzheimer’s, so you have to think a certain way and be attentive. I find it helps if I look at things and situations from the perspective of the patient.”
Pexildah also studied Criminal and Social Justice through Okanagan College while working full-time. After earning a diploma, she applied for a job with the RCMP but was turned down because she didn’t meet the vision standard. She’s hoping she can have her eyesight corrected and still holds out hope of reaching her goal. She plans on completing another two years of the program to get her degree.
Pexildah says she’s heard people complain about Canada’s immigration policy. She says she understands their frustration but she says there is a good reason why foreigners are coming here. “Immigrants are coming to Canada not to take jobs from people but to fill the jobs that Canadians don’t. As immigrants, we are grateful to have those jobs and to use them as a stepping stone to progress ourselves.”
One of Pexildah’s biggest achievements since coming to Canada was meeting her husband, Zane Simmonds. The couple is working and studying so hard to further themselves that they have very little time for recreation and socializing. “I was thinking about going to the gym. But I was working two jobs and studying. I couldn’t work it into my schedule so I dropped the idea.”
Pexildah has a second job providing home care for seniors. She had a third but had to give it up because it was becoming too much to handle. She treats her patients as family. “We are always there to meet their needs and to give them emotional and physical support. So, I feel I’m making an impact by helping families who can’t always be there to care for their parents or loved ones.”
Pexildah offers this bit of advice to anyone considering immigrating to Canada. “I think that many people, when they come here, feel that they’re entitled to something that the government should hand it to them. But from my perspective, if you want to progress, you have to work for it. Canada has so many possibilities and if you’re prepared to work hard you can achieve your dreams.”