Audio in Portuguese. Read the English transcript below.
The city of Kanata-Ottawa
Interview with Patricia Barcellos. Why living in Kanata-Ottawa?
Transcripts (Automatic English translation – unedited)
Hello welcome. I’m Christian Pedersen and this is another episode of Ontario beyond Toronto, a podcast of Brazilian Wave Canada. In this episode, we want to know: why did Patricia go to live in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa? Canadian federal government health worker Patricia Barcellos left Toronto, where she lived for 10 years, for life in Kanata, a former town that was absorbed by Ottawa and is now a major suburb. The suburb of Kanata, today has about 117,000 inhabitants and is, more or less, 22 km west of downtown Ottawa.
Christian: Patricia, why did you come to live in Canada?
Patricia: I chose Canada, because at a certain point in my life, when I was living in Brazil, my husband got a doctoral scholarship to go to the United States, and we went together. In that period, what happened was that we visited Canada. And when we got to Toronto, and it was summer, it was that explosion of all colors, sizes, sounds. You heard languages that you couldn’t … I, at least, couldn’t even identify! And the people, extremely, friendly. In our entire experience, there was not a moment like: “Wow, how strange!”. So, it was something that impressed us very well. Then, what happened was that, in reality, we [thought]: “Wow, suddenly we could immigrate to Canada!”. And we checked the paperwork in Minneápolis [in the United States] . But then, with the scholarship, you have an obligation to return to Brazil (I think you have to stay, at least, for two years). The Canadian Consulate in Minneápolis , informed us that, as we were moving to another country, then, we would have to start the process in this other country [Brazil].
Christian: Did you choose Toronto right away, or did you think of another place first?
Patricia: My idea was Montreal . Because I had already come to Canada for work and I met Toronto , I met Vancouver (which I liked immensely!). But I hadn’t known Montreal and I had that idea of Montreal ! And I went to see what the situation was like in Montreal . Because still in my head, Montreal was the place.
Christian: What did you like about Toronto and what didn’t you like about Toronto ?
Patricia: I like that Toronto diversity. It is like this, something that gives a life in the city and that, for my experience (maybe those who live in New York or, perhaps, in Miami, I don’t know, maybe have a similar experience), comparing it with my life experience in the United States and even, for example, in Montreal, when I spent a week there… I think Toronto has this diversity that I think is great! And that reflects in millions of things, not only in those people that you see. But it reflects in the neighborhoods, it reflects in the restaurants, in the markets.
Christian: What do you value about Kanata, which you didn’t find in Toronto ?
Patricia: The beginning is always much more difficult, right? So, I think that aspect, of this struggle of the challenges of getting things and knowing things … so, for me, this part was very difficult, in Toronto . I thought it was a little limited. Although you can do things and such, I think I was still learning a lot (as I still am) what Canada is and Canadian culture. So, this start is very difficult. And then, maybe, it’s not even a Toronto- specific thing . Because, perhaps, if, and, my first arrival in Canada, had been elsewhere, I would have had that same experience. But I think, maybe because Toronto is the biggest city, they also have these things, people are colder, everyone is on the run. I remember, for example, that when I moved to the National Capital Region ( because I went to live in Quebec ) I remember that I rented my apartment. Then, as a good Brazilian, the first thing, you go to the supermarket to buy cleaning supplies, because you have to wash everything! So, I was at the supermarket with a broom, soap, everything you can imagine! Then when my turn came in line, the cashier looked at me and said: “Well, you’re either a cleaner, or you just moved in.” And the girl, the person in front of me, everyone laughed! And I thought it was great! In Toronto you go to the supermarket, the cashier has that smile: “ Hi , how are you ?”. [But] she doesn’t even look at you! Things go by: “ Hi have a nice day !”. Then, suddenly, my first experience on the Quebec side , the person not only saw me, but looked, thought something and made the comment…, and everyone laughed! And I said: “Guys, what a difference!”. Another thing that I also thought was funny (these things are silly, but I don’t know, they impacted me because maybe I wasn’t expecting. Toronto also has the traffic that … now when I go to Toronto , I say: “Oh, wow!”. But, I remember that the first time I came to Ottawa to look for an apartment, before I moved…, I came on 416, entering 417, people made it easy for me to enter Hi ghway . I never had this experience in Toro nto ! I’m a little more relaxed, so to speak, in Canada, and understand a little more Canadian culture. it’s something that, when you come younger, I think it’s something a lot easier, but to me that I have already come to a very adult person, it is difficult…, it is difficult! I think it is a learning process that I will die learning.
Christian: What made you want to move to another city?
Patricia: It was for a job. I had a job offer in Ottawa , which was much more interesting for me, from a professional point of view. I mean, not only financial, but the work itself. I came to work at a government agency that develops technical standards. One thing I had worked on a little in Brazil, at the time when ISO 14000 (which is the environment) was discussed and I participated in the Brazilian committee. So, it was something that I found very interesting, the development of technical standards. I had that opportunity, submitted my resume and got the position and then I came.
Christian: How was the change process, was it smooth?
Patricia: Medium. Because we know a girl here in Ottawa, u Canadian ma. And she was going to be out of the country (I moved in February) and she said: “Ah, Patricia! Why don’t you stay here at my place? ”. I thought it was great: “Sure!” Because I would take care of her house (she also had a cat), instead of going to a hotel (and they would pay me for the hotel). Well, it was a disaster! Why it was one of those winters that it snowed until it was gone, you know? And I had to clear the snow and I had nowhere else to put the snow. So, you keep trying to put … making a hill higher and higher. It was hell, it was horrible! I said: “What a stupid thing!”.
Christian: What aspects of Ottawa do you like and dislike?
Patricia: That’s the funny thing! Because I remember (when I was in Toronto and was a newcomer) that people used to say: “look, Toronto , big city!”. And I kept thinking … uh-uh … because, compared to Rio , Toronto is a small city, right? And I ended up in Ottawa , when Ottawa didn’t have a million inhabitants! When I came, it was about 800 thousand, or whatever. But, I liked! It was funny too, that here some people, when they asked me: “Ah! Where did you live before? ”. And I: “In Toronto “. And they said: “Wow! But you must be hating Ottawa , because Ottawa has nothing! ”. I mean, I think this is an impression, perhaps, a little more of the younger people, because Toronto , I think, has a lot more nightlife. That indeed has! But, people too … me talking in Ottawa … it seems that Ottawa was much worse. Nowadays, you have this diversity of restaurants, neighborhoods and such. Obviously, you can’t compare to Toronto . But you have and you have enough! And I think that, either because of my age, or whatever, I ended up enjoying this slightly slower pace. Everything is close here, understand? You speak like this: Traffic Jam. But Traffic Jam, because you can’t go at 50 mph! It goes at 20km / h or 30km / h, you know? But, it is a little different. What I think is also nice here in Ottawa is this proximity to nature: you have the Green Belt in Ottawa , you have the Gatineau park , too. I mean, everything super close, much more than in Toronto ! In Toronto you have the lake and if you live near the lake, great! But if not… and in Toronto , which is very good and very bad, which is: “If you live close to the subway, you are fine. But if you live far from the subway, the public transport system is horrible ”. It’s a little better here, because of the volume, I think, of civil servants. At least in the morning and in the afternoon you have a bus frequency. There is a special lane just for buses in parts of the city. It is interesting, because (even a director-general), everyone uses public transport. And this thing that everything is close to, everything is 20 minutes, 30 minutes. I ended up in Kanata because at a certain moment, I said: “Wow, I’m going to think about buying a house!”. I was living in a supersympathetic neighborhood in Ottawa , which is called West Borrough , but it was also extremely expensive. The rent was quite expensive. I said: “It makes no sense for me to be paying this rent”. But, also, to be able to buy a house in Ottawa … , it is not as expensive as Toronto , but it is a little more expensive than I could afford. I had a co-worker at the time and we were very close. She lived in Kanata . And she said: “Come to Kanata !”. Anyway, she is Canadian and gave me several tips and I came to see Kanata . This suburban living thing has always been something I never thought of. Because, depending on the car to go buy a kilo of flour or a liter of milk, I think this is a horror! But I managed to find a place where I have everything: I can walk to the library, there is a bank, there is a coffee shop… there are all these things that are more important… there are three types of supermarkets. Ah! And it is very close to the bus stop that I used at the time. So, you are not totally dependent on your car. So, for me, that was the most important thing! Well, in February, you don’t have many offers. But then, this place that I found this place in Kanata , that had all these benefits, including a bus stop to go to the city, very close too.
Christian : Does the Light Rail also arrive in Kanata or is it not yet?
Patricia: Not yet. You have a plan to arrive.
Christian : But when you moved from Ottawa to Gatineau, how did that transition go? Because, as Quebec is on the border, a lot of people live in Gatineau and work in Ottawa . Or a lot of people also go to Gatineau to buy alcohol – I heard about this story, which is cheaper … people go out at night to Gatineau to buy alcohol and go back to Ontario … how was that change? Because there is a lot, not only a lot of incentives, but there is also the language problem, which is still a problem.
Patricia: It’s a problem. What happened was that, at the beginning of February, when I came looking for a place to stay, the only place I found, that was close enough to my work and that I could walk, if I needed to, was on Gatineau’s side. . So, when I made my move from Toronto to the National Capital Region , I went straight to Gatineau . In fact, I really wanted to, I was interested in learning French. But, unfortunately, the job, even on the side of Gatineau ( where I worked) everyone spoke only English. With the exception of one person (who had all the patience) and I said to him: “Monique, I want to practice my French”. She was bilingual and it was great because she only spoke to me in French. And it helped me to respond when I didn’t know. But then I also learned. I didn’t know, but I heard about these things. A lot of people who live in Ottawa go to Quebec , not only to buy drinks (which, in general, is cheaper), but the bars also tend to stay open until later.
Christian : Kanata has a technological part, with the industries. Does the city attract people, also for this reason, or is the city more dormitory?
Patricia: I think Kanata started out as a dorm town. Because it is exactly like this: on the fringes of the Green Belt. So, it doesn’t have that part … like, when you go to smaller cities, usually in North America, you have that little center, which is sometimes nice and such. Kanata doesn’t have it. So, I think Kanata’s start was from a dorm town. Because it all started the IT part to get the part that they call K anata North. And you have the industrial park of this very large area of information technology in Kanata . So, people started to live even in Kanata , which is a nice thing, obviously, because people live and things start to happen too.
Christian : Was it worth switching to Kanata ?
Patricia: Thanks for me! Thanks because I think I wouldn’t have the opportunity to own the house I have in Toronto. Unless I lived … maybe … I don’t even know where, you know? And having to face [highway] 41 every day, by bus or car, and losing … I don’t know, how many hours people lose in traffic! I drive by going to my job, half an hour by car. In winter, sometimes coming back with more traffic, it takes me 40 minutes. That I would never have in Toronto. Ottawa’s difficulties: winter. Winter is longer, colder, more snow. I have been trying to get as much as I can, getting involved with winter activities.
Christian : Would you recommend Kanata to a Brazilian?
Patricia: I think it will depend on the profile. If you are a super young person, who loves to party, maybe even the Quebec side would be more interesting. If you are a person who really likes this part of winter sports, cycling, hiking, I think Ottawa in general and Kanata, too (because everything is so close), offer it. And I think it is also [good] for those who have a family. And there is a lot … it seems that there is a lot of Brazilian here. The people who work in this area live in Kanata . Just as there are people in Ottawa who have decided to move to Gatineau , just so they can have access to a better home and a cheaper cost of living (which, in Gatineau, they do), it is the same thing I would say to suddenly you’re thinking about going to Toronto , but depending on your situation, Ottawa and K anata , particularly, I think it would be a good option. More than the eastern part, because there, Orleans seems to always have a traffic problem to come by bus from Orleans to the city center.
Christian : So there are a lot of Brazilians in Kanata ?
Patricia : Yes. There are a lot of Brazilians.
Christian: Are there Brazilian products and services or is it just more in Ottawa ?
Patricia: Not that I know of. Unfortunately, we had a group here, and the group kind of ended … unfortunately. So, I am not very aware.
Christian: And what recommendations would you give to a Brazilian? Who would be arriving here and want to go to Ottawa or Kanata ?
Patricia: In reality, I think this thing fluctuates a little. But I think that today, for example, Kanata also offers support for immigrants. When I arrived in Toronto , for example, I didn’t have one. I ended up discovering this organization [for migrants] that I know is one of the… because they invited me to be what they call a “ mentor ” for immigrants. I thought the idea was great! And there are several other organizations and I think not just for Ottawa . For people who are thinking of coming to Canada, I think that nowadays, they have access via the internet and it is much easier, even, to get information over the internet. If you know someone or through Wave, for example, make contacts. Because I think the only thing that I worry about a little and that I would warn is this winter issue. Because I think it’s a difficult thing, right? Because some people don’t adapt.
Christian: When a lot of people say: I like the cold, I’ll adapt well. The cold that we have in Brazil is totally different from the cold that you deal with here. As much as you like it, it’s not like that …
Patricia: This thing about the cold … it’s something that people have to be very aware of, because it’s something that will demand. Even if they are more interested in doing winter sports and stuff… people might see those images of skiing in the Alps… but the situation is quite different. Because the temperature here is much lower and the winter is much longer. Sometimes it starts in October. I remember, there are some behind us, the first snow was on Halloween , October 31st, and I think it was until mid-April. Everything was white, you didn’t see anything. It was direct snow, direct! And you have to be prepared. It has all the psychological part of what you will find. Weariness from boot to boot, boot coat, boot glove, boot cap … Take off your jacket, take off your cap, take off your glove, take off your boot … and things are heavy. I mean, once it’s ok, but six months, it’s tiring.
Christian: How important is English, really, to be able to develop here?
Patricia: You have to have English. If you haven’t, like me when I arrived in the United States … I didn’t, but I made a monumental effort. I had a few classes, but everything is very expensive and we were living on a student budget and I went to the university library all day to study. I did Toefl and ended up doing a master’s there. And here is the same thing. If you haven’t, you have to be willing to learn. If you have money to pay for an English course, great, otherwise, you will be very limited: working in construction, working in cleaning … the cost of living here in Ottawa, too, is much cheaper than in Toronto . This is another thing that I think is positive.
Christian: The cost of living in K anata is the same than in Ottawa or, being a suburb, it is cheaper?
Patricia: I think Kanata is a little bit cheaper. When I see, for example, gasoline, these things, in Kanata, in general, it is cheaper. But the rest, I think it’s more or less the same thing. Obviously, if you want to buy a property within the city of Ottawa it will be a little more expensive than in the suburbs. Supermarket and all that, it’s more or less the same, because they are all chains.
Christian: Having lived in different places, if you were to start all over again, would you choose Ottawa first or somewhere else?
Patricia: I like Ottawa! I think I would stay in Ottawa . And like it here, in this place, right here in K anata . There is another place here, another suburb, which is very close (you practically don’t even realize you are in another suburb) and which is more friendly than Kanata . It’s called Stittsville and it has this part of the city, so you have a little center of Stittsville.
Christian : Regarding security, as it is for a woman living alone in K anata or Canada in general?
Patricia: The critical thing that made me come to Canada was violence. Because, when we came back from the United States , there were a series of events in the two years after we arrived. And when it gets cold in the winter, I remember: “No, but… I have a freedom here, which I would never have in Brazil!”. I remember that the first time I came back from my work in Toronto , on foot, to my house, it was nine o’clock at night in the winter and then, there was no one on the street! And my heart: boom, boom, boom, boom. But I felt a pleasure, which cannot be described! Another thing, also funny, was that (this thing of violence stays with you for a long time) … I remember that I wanted to buy a house, because I wanted a piece of land to be able to plant a garden, but I was terrified. I said: “I will have to buy in a condominium” (because I feel more protected). And I remember that my boss, at the time, talking to me, he said: “No, Patricia, no problem. I live! On my street, for example, there is this lady who is, I don’t know how old and everyone knows that she lives alone and doesn’t have the slightest problem! ”. I chose to live in a condominium. People more or less know each other, so if something different happens, it is much more remarkable. I think it becomes more difficult for … I think that there is not so much gratuitous violence here, that there is in Rio, you know. I don’t think I could ever do that. Yeah, this is something that is priceless to me!
Christian: If today’s Patricia met with Patricia who was arriving in Canada, what advice would you give her?
Patricia: I should have gone to participate or join a church, for example. A lot of the social happens in churches. It is a way for you to expand. Because if you come here, for example, with a small child, you will have another opportunity, you will meet with other parents. Parents here participate a lot in the life of the schools. So, they meet, regularly. I also know a number of Canadians who have made great friends and who have met each other while fetching children. Or going to the meetings that parents do to attend school events. So, this is how relationships happen here, right? Volunteer! You will volunteer for something you like. You will meet a lot of people and you already have one thing in common, which makes it easier. Because, developing relationships after being an adult is a little more complicated, especially in a different culture.
Christian: On behalf of the Wave team, I thank Patricia Barcelos for participating in our podcast. And it is worth clarifying that they are opinions, experiences reported by our guests, which does not mean that it will be the same for someone else. The important thing about these episodes is that people know a little about what it is like to live and live in these places. If you made it this far, thank you for the audience, and see you next episode.
Podcast: Ontario Beyond Toronto
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