Fulfilling a childhood dream

Cameroon-born Jean Chrysostome Nsima arrived in Winnipeg on April 14, 2018, with his wife, Véronique Clarisse Mambo, and their three children. With their determination and the help of Francophone organizations, the couple settled quickly and found jobs that are a close fit with their skill sets.

Véronique Clarisse Mambo was behind the immigration initiative. "My wife has been nurturing this idea since she was a child. She started the ball rolling in 2010 to immigrate to Quebec." Jean Chrysostome Nsima really started to get involved in the process after their application was rejected in 2014. "When I saw how devastated my wife was, I took things into my own hands and started looking for other options."

At an information session sponsored by the Government of Canada, Jean Chrysostome Nsima learned more about the other Canadian provinces. "We narrowed it down to the immigration programs in Manitoba and New Brunswick. After taking a closer look, Manitoba seemed the more likely alternative. The conditions were simpler and we already had all the documents."

Nsima did some research on the province, the French-speaking community and job opportunities. "I contacted immigration advisor Brigitte Léger, who suggested we make an exploratory visit. We came in summer 2016. We liked what we saw, and the people were very friendly. It was peaceful, and we could imagine raising our children here."

The Nsima family started the permanent residence process to return and settle permanently in Manitoba last April. "I was different from our first visit. In Africa, we had family around us to help with the kids. Here, it was just the two of us. My wife and I had to learn to get along on our own."

Culture shock was another challenge. "The Canadian way of doing things is very different from what we were familiar with. But the counsellors at Accueil francophone gave us information and tips on living here. We also suffered some setbacks when we began looking for work. We couldn't even get an interview at first."

So the couple approached CDEM. "We took some training and work sessions to learn how to tailor our résumés to the Canadian market. Then we started to get interviews. But language was still a barrier for me."

After taking part in the CDEM job fair, Jean Chrysostome got his first job. "I was hired by an ice manufacturing company. I volunteered at Accueil francophone in my spare time, and I continued to look for work in my field."

Jean Chrysostome Nsima worked as an electrical foreman and planner in Cameroon. His wife was a warehouse manager and financial analyst. "CDEM helped put me in touch with Raysolar, a company that was looking for a bilingual electrical technician. I started working there on August 7. While I'm currently unable to fully use the working language, my team helps me a lot, and I think I am making process."

Jean Chrysostome Nsima and Véronique Clarisse Mambo are currently on a waiting list for part-time English classes. "Speaking French was definitely an asset. You can live here speaking only French. But in the electricity field, English is a must."

After six months in Canada, Jean Chrysostome Nsima is pleased with his situation. "I don't regret leaving Cameroon. Things have gone quickly for us. We were very prepared when we arrived, and everything has gone relatively seamlessly. Manitoba is an accommodating and open province with a lot of opportunities. You can do what you want. And if you're fully bilingual, it's really great."