Dale Sproule, Editor
It may seem odd to dedicate an issue of Canadian Newcomer Magazine to the theme of “Shopping”, when we have been so vocal for so long about the need for newcomers to live on careful and strict budgets when you first arrive in Canada. But the simple fact is that everyone needs to shop.
And as you settle into your new home, get a new job and begin to get ahead – shopping transforms from something you may dread (because you need to spend money you don’t have) to something you enjoy! We hope that this theme issue will allow you to feel more joy about shopping right from the beginning.
Shortly after starting the magazine, I had a very interesting conversation with a successful and prosperous Mississauga lawyer who told me that he was terrified of shopping the first time he stepped into a large Canadian supermarket. It was so completely different from what he had known back in Ghana, that he just stood and stared at the hundreds of people pushing their shopping carts up and down the aisles full of food. He did not know if there was some special procedure he had to follow. He was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the place. He did not understand the technology that the cashiers used to keep track of prices. After standing in front of the big glass windows for a full 10 minutes, he simply turned around and walked out. He bought all of his groceries at small convenience stores for many months – before he worked up the nerve to go back into a supermarket. It is hard for North Americans to appreciate this level of culture shock and how it can cripple a newcomer who does not have a strong support system. For many, there is also a language barrier that makes the prospect of activities like shopping even scarier. This stress is reduced, and therefore much easier to deal with if your English language skills are strong and if you have friends or relatives who can show you around and help you with things like shopping until you get used to it. Once you’ve done it a few times, it becomes simple and not frightening in any way – except perhaps that it is still very expensive.
Most of the shopping stories in this issue try to offer you a range of possibilities. If you are surviving on very little money while job-hunting or taking courses, then you can shop for clothing and furniture in thrift stores as suggested in the stories “Look Great, Spend Less” and “Furnishing Your Home”. Or, as we point out in the furniture story, you can save even more money using methods such as garage sales and lawn shopping. Keeping in touch with people back in your country of origin is important to everyone – so buying a phone, selecting a phone service and shopping for long distance savings are things most people must deal with soon after arriving in Canada.
Once you’re more permanently settled, you may have to look at shopping from a different point of view altogether. While your children may put up with your penny-pinching ways when they are growing up, as teenagers and young adults, there will be peer pressure to have the same clothes and gadgets as their friends. Eleven year old Tiyana Maharaj gives us a youth-eyed view of the Canadian shopping experience. And as always, we’ve tried to give you a useful selection of articles about education and training alternatives, valuable multilingual services, protecting your credit information and much more.
In a sense, everything you do in Canada involves shopping in one form or another – whether it involves shopping for clothes or shopping for schools or job opportunities.
So happy shopping – from Canadian Newcomer Magazine.