“Community Champions” is a media campaign led by the South Okanagan-Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership and supported by Castanet. We share stories that raise awareness about the contribution immigrants make to the community while introducing the small businesses of new Canadians.
Dan became a luthier apprentice when he was a teenager. At 16 he was able to register his own guitar craftsmanship business in his hometown – Southend-on- Sea in England. With time, MacPherson Guitars became a recognized high-end brand and Dan’s business was growing. Besides custom-made exquisite guitars, Dan mastered his craftsmanship in other elite woodwork such as VIP jet, Yacht and vehicle interiors.
“...he’s a time-served luthier with the highest reputation as a skilled craftsman”, said Lars Mullen, a well known music journalist, about Dan.
To grow his business internationally through accessing the U.S. and Canadian markets, Dan MacPherson decided to relocate to Canada through a federal entrepreneurship program active at the time. In 2009 his application was approved and he was informed that he needed to prepare to move in 12 to 18 months. And so he did. He sold his house, organized his business equipment for the move, and waited.
He waited for five years…
Because of the world financial crisis of 2007-2008 he sold his house at a deflated market price and lived in his shop, a motorhome or couch surfed while he kept waiting.
Finally, in mid 2015, he got the paperwork for immigration to Canada and finally became a landed immigrant in May 2016. He knew he wanted to come to the Okanagan, so he came to visit a few towns in the area.
“All the government staff that I met throughout the valley told me that their town is the best. But I picked Penticton. There were a lot of offers of help in the beginning but not when I finally moved here”, shared Dan.
Dan moved to Penticton in 2016. Due to a lot conflicting and contradictory information, delays for permits and arguments over code compliancy definitions, re-starting this business was a very lengthy problematic and costly process.
Dan was receiving mixed and conflicting information about what he needed to comply with in order to open his business. He studied all the regulations but this led to more questions that no one wanted to or was able to answer. It took him two years to finally open his business.
By that time, the funds he brought with him were long gone.
“Now, all these years since I made a decision to bring my business here, I am still trying to make ends meet. I still don’t have many friends here and no family as I moved here on my own. I live in a rental room as I’m unable to obtain a mortgage or pay the high levels of rent in town – this is what I sold my house for. Not exactly a success story”, adds Dan with a sad smile.
PS. Dan’s story is not unique. Canada’s immigration system targets the best of the best when it comes to professional and business immigration programs. In most cases (62%), these professionals are unable to find employment commensurate with their education and experiences. It may take up to 15 years for an immigrant to settle.