Why living in Sudbury? Interview with Rita Izumi

Podcast Ontario Beyond Toronto (English transcript): In this episode, we spoke with Rita who has lived in Canada for more than 26 years, in different cities, including Toronto, Mississauga, Timmins, and Sudbury.

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Audio in Portuguese. Read the English transcript below.

The city of Sudbury – location

Interview with Rita Izumi. Why living in Sudbury?
Transcripts (Automatic English translation – unedited)

Christian: Hi, I’m Christian Pedersen. Welcome to another episode of Ontario beyond Toronto, a podcast of Brazilian Wave Canada. In this episode, we ask: why did Rita go to live in Sudbury? Sudbury or Greater Sudbury is the most populous city in northern Ontario province. By area, it is the largest city in Ontario and the fifth largest in Canada. Sudbury is about 387 km north of Toronto and has a population of about 161,000. The city was once a major lumber center and also a world leader in nickel mining. The two largest mining companies that formed Sudbury’s history are Inco, which is now Vale, and Falconbridge, which was Glencore in the past. It’s from Sudbury that we talked with Rita Izumi. She has lived in Canada for more than 26 years and has passed through Toronto, Mississauga, Timmins, and at the end, Sudbury.

Christian: Hi Rita, thanks for taking part in our podcast.

Rita: it is a pleasure to participate.

Christian: First, tell us why Rita went to live in Canada?

Rita: Why? Good question! I first came to Canada in 1990 and spent a year here. After this experience, we liked it very much, my husband and I, and we decided to come back here later. I liked it, I had a very good impression, I met many good people. I am from Sao Paulo and comparing São Paulo with Toronto, I found Toronto small and I was delighted with the parks, right? I liked it here a lot, I had a good impression. For those who remember, 1990-91 was also a very difficult period in Brazil and so we decided to take a break. We came here and have been here for 26 years.

Christian: That’s right, an impressive time! Because I’ve been here for almost 19 years and I’m already half an old guard by comparison. And you, then, are even more. Pioneer!

Rita: even more! In 1990, almost no Brazilians were heard here in Canada. In 1994, when I moved here as a resident, Brazilians were hardly heard here either. But now…

Christian: Toronto has grown a lot since then.

Rita: it has grown a lot. Actually, at the time I came here, back in Brazil people were asking: “where are you moving to? I said: “to Canada”. “And where is this?”. “Do you see the United States? Stay on top”. Canada was very little known years ago. But with all this technology, the Internet opened the doors. Canada has taken the lead when it comes to refugees. It has established itself as a country open to immigration and has caught the attention of many people. The fact that Brazilian companies do business here in Canada also increased this promotion, this propaganda of Canada there in Brazil.

Christian: How was it, at that time, to arrive in another country that, practically, had no Brazilians?

Rita: when you move from one country to another, you have to be open-minded, that you will meet other people from other cultures. That’s what we had at the time. It was interesting to talk about the TTC, like this, and to know that nobody on the side understood. But now, there in Toronto, at TTC, you have to be careful with what you say, because for sure, you will have Brazilians around, listening.

Christian: The TTC that Rita spoke about is the Toronto Transit Commission, whose official abbreviation is TTC, which is the public agency in charge of managing the city’s public transportation system.

Christian: And you have been in Sudbury for how long?

Rita: I moved here in 2003, so it’s been a while. Before, I lived in Toronto, I lived in Mississauga, in Timmins, which is further north, and now in Sudbury.

Christian: Since Rita went to live in Sudbury, what is it like to live there?

Rita: I really like it here. It’s a very friendly city. When I moved, my neighbor on the other side crossed the street to introduce herself to me. I was delighted! It’s a city where the cold is bigger. It snows much more! The history of Sudbury says that it is a very ugly city because it is a mining town and all the trees here were used either for mining or to rebuild Chicago when Chicago caught fire many years ago. But, since then, it had a program in 1970, which… had a very big effort to recover the environment and today is an example to the world that gives to recover what was destroyed. Sudbury is a hub here in the north. They have smaller cities and Sudbury would be the biggest city they have. It has university, colleges, good hospital… and a lot of nature. For those who like nature is very good. And we live here very well, for about 18 years now.

Christian: When you arrived in Toronto, you found the city small compared to São Paulo. What is Sudbury like now in relation to Toronto?

Rita: Canada is a much larger country than Brazil in terms of area, but small in terms of population. So, coming out of even relatively small cities in the interior of Brazil, you’ll find it smaller. But, the infrastructure is very good. And I assure you that it’s much easier to get used to in a small city than in a big city. Sometimes there are people who come here and say: “Oh…city of the countryside? How horrible!” But, they get used to it super fast because the quality of life is really good. I’m ten minutes away from my homework. I don’t get stuck in traffic. Even those friends of mine who drive a little bit more, because they decided to live a little further from downtown…the road is empty, just for you. There is no traffic jam, none of it. When we want to go to Toronto, to a theater, to a show, something, it’s not like that either…it’s 4 to 5 hours, go there, spend the weekend, visit friends, enjoy the best of the big city and come home. The cold here…gets used to it. And it’s even tasty. It’s a dry cold, there’s a lot of snow. But we love it because we can play.

Toronto is gray, there’s no snow, right? You can’t do much. Not here, here we can ski every day, skate every day, enjoy the winter. The summer is less humid, so it is much more pleasant. The more you go outside and do skiing, snowhoeing and skating and snowmobile…there are toys for every day! The more you do it, the more you like it. And my children, who were raised here more to the north…ask: “what season do you like the most? They will answer you that it is winter.

Christian: And speaking of children, you arrived when your daughter was only one year old. What was it like to arrive in another country with a small daughter? Was it even more challenging?

Rita: First, that I already knew, I had already known Canada. I had already spent a year here. But the fact that I brought my daughter here was even better in the end. Because we have to get out of our bubble, right? We have to, soon, find out how the doctor works, how the school works, meet other parents. Wow, I thought it got even better! And children force us to expand our comfort zone, right? Children force us to expand our comfort zone.

Christian: Did you speak English when you got here?

Rita: We talked. But, like everyone who comes here, the English we learn sometimes is not enough because, if you had a teacher who spoke British English, for example. Or that you spoke English from the United States, from Texas, so you pronounce it sometimes… so: “just a little bit, speak a little slower”… until we understand. Then, it takes a little time to learn, to get used to the ear. As in any other place, they use a lot of slang, they cut the words a lot, but then, we learn.

Christian: but in the end, as she practically grew here. So, does she speak Portuguese?

Rita: we speak Portuguese at home. My children speak Portuguese: they speak, read and write. And it wasn’t difficult. In fact, my son once asked how I taught them. They speak French too. I said, “Just by speaking! We never stop speaking Portuguese and even because, there is no reason for it. Because we always talk to our parents and every opportunity we have, we go to Brazil. And it’s important to go and interact with family members. So, they get along well here, as they do well there in Brazil. There is no difference. And I encourage everyone to talk to their children in Portuguese. Give this opportunity for children to learn another language. It facilitates in French. In fact, it has an interesting aspect. When I was in Mississauga, in the amusement park, my children were playing with my Brazilian friend’s daughters, and with other Indians and… Mississauga is also very multicultural, right? And there in the park, I don’t think I should really have any “real Canadian”. And they playing there, they fought. And each group went to a corner of the park to play and started to speak in their own language, to keep the others out, right? And my daughter, with her friends also speaking Portuguese, did the same thing: they went there to another corner and started speaking Portuguese. It was interesting. I mean, they feel proud to be able to speak other languages.

Christian: That’s very good. And when you came to live, did you choose Toronto for a specific reason or just because it was what you knew?

Rita: this is what we knew and what brought us here for the first time: my work and school and the friends we met from our first trip. But we have already come open to the possibility of living in other areas, because my husband is a geologist. And geology is usually in other places, right? So, we were already open to this possibility.

Christian: How long have you been in Toronto?

Rita: about five years, more or less.

Christian: And then did you go to Mississauga or was it half the same period, like this?

Rita: Mississauga was just a question… because we bought a house in Mississauga. We were still working in Toronto, but we lived in Mississauga.

Christian: So, from there you went to Timmins?

Rita: Timmins, yeah.

Christian: And how was your experience there? I believe you went because of the geology, right?

Rita: it was because of geology. At the time, I only knew about Timmins because Shania Twain was from there! Timmins is far, much farther than Sudbury. Colder. It was very good professionally for my husband, for me… it was very good! And the time we spent in Timmins was very good. We met a lot of very interesting people, nice. But the fact is that the person coming to Canada is the most difficult. Once here, moving here, moving there, should be easier. But, we have to follow the opportunities, right? The job opportunities.

Christian: Was it easy to get a job here in Toronto? How was it there in Timmins and then in Sudbury?

Rita: look, I had no problem coming to Canada and I had no problem getting a job. My area is…in Brazil I worked in a bank and here in Canada I got into finance. And thank God we always had work. My husband did…he worked in Toronto, but after, it was much better for him to work in mining, change cities. If he stayed in Toronto, he wouldn’t have a job, he would have frustration because of the work. So, we have to follow where the work presents itself. My area, as it is finance… finance is much easier: everywhere there is, everywhere there is need. So I decided to follow it and it was a good thing. And I have friends who came from Brazil straight to Sudbury and the jobs forced them to go to the south of Ontario. I have friends who live in the region of Niagara Falls, Burlington region because of the work. But, their areas were petrochemical, chemical. In my time, the most difficult was really to know how things worked. Because in my time, one didn’t have the access that we have today to information and with small children, that we had, so it was like this: either stay at home or go out to look for things. In this aspect we had a little more difficulty. Today no, today you are at home taking care of your child, but you are looking for a job on the internet, looking for information. You can do both at the same time. But, at the time, no! For you to go to the Unemployment Issurence, which is the unemployment insurance, you had to go there personally. Really, knocking from door to door. But today no, today everything is on the internet and there are a lot of people willing to help, to give the information. So you have to know where is your area and look in Canada, where are the industries of the area in which you work. And go away! This new generation of Brazilians, the ones that are coming, ours they give a ball show here! Because they already come with everything in their hands, with everything planned, with everything triggered. Not in my time, not in my time. We really… until we improved our English and understood how things worked… many of my friends had to work at Burguer King, McDonald’s. But not now. The people are already coming with positions, with work and this is very good!

Christian: What are the differences between Timmins and Sudbury for you?

Rita: what will really determine is your job opportunity, right? If you have a job in Timmins, take the job, go there! You don’t have to stay there all your life! But, it’s a northern city, it’s Timmins, it’s smaller than Sudbury, further north, colder, harder to go to Toronto, because it’s a little further away. I from Sudbury go to Toronto in 4 hours. Timmins you already have to plan 8 hours, right? But, they are good cities too and have access to everything. The infrastructure in Canada is very good. If you are in Timmins there is a hospital, there are schools. If you need a bigger treatment or something, you have the helicopter that takes you to where you need it. The good thing about the countryside is that there is a great need for labor, so you are very well received. In these years that I am here in Sudbury, I have seen an increase of immigrants, of Indians. And Sudbury went to India to promote the city. So, I mean, you are well received. I have here where I work… I was the only foreigner for many years. Now there is a boy from Colombia, some Indians, a person from Nepal and they are all not even migrants yet. They are students, aren’t they? And they are working… working hard, they are happy.

Christian: And how is the cost of living there in Sudbury? Or even compared to Timmins and Toronto, is it much cheaper? What is it like?

Rita: Toronto is crazy, right? It’s crazy! The housing, the rent? and even, the last time I was in Toronto, to get a sandwich there for breakfast, I found the price they charged? so… I said: “Wow! A little too expensive for what I wanted”. But, really, Toronto has grown too much and it’s very expensive there. So, if you want to live with quality of life, no matter the housing or education…in the interior you have the chance to have a much better quality of life.

Christian: and still speaking of quality of life, what is your social life like? Is there a lot to do out there?

Rita: You have something to do! There’s theater, there’s movies, there’s… people love parks, nature activities… much more than in Toronto. You have beaches and in my city here, there are lakes everywhere. You can even have a house on the shore of the lake and have a private piece of the lake for you! There are lakes, the waters are clean, access to camping, fishing, hunting, motorcycle riding, mountain biking. For children, for young people, growing up here is very good! And even my children and friends who went to college outside the city, in the summer still wanted to come back running. Because here there are many more things to do. And u have friends here that: “Ah, I was living in Kingston, in Burlington and now I’m in Sudbury…“. They say that once or twice and next time: “Oh, I love it here! After staying they say: “Oh, I have to go to Toronto, how awful!

Christian: So, today Toronto is too big for you?

Rita: ah, now stay. It’s very easy to get used to what is good, it’s very easy!

Christian: Is there anything about Sudbury that you don’t like?

Rita: I don’t like that you don’t have a chicken drumstick! As a matter of fact, at the weekend now, we’ll have… the first time a truck will come from a store there from Toronto, bringing everything we like. I have nothing to complain about, no!

Christian: Was it easy to find a place to live?

Rita: Today I heard on the radio that if we really want to attract more immigrants here, we have to improve the housing. Invest, because really, people are coming here and…housing…where will they live, right? Oh, but they are always building. There’s plenty of land to build.

Christian: because of Vale do Rio Doce, which is also there and because there is a lot of mining, there is a lot of Brazilian there?

Rita: it has increased a lot because of Vale. There are many who come just to spend a year or two and go away. Most of them want to stay. The fact that Vale came here to the city really attracted a lot of Brazilians.

Christian: What are your recommendations for those who want to live or try to live in Sudbury?

Rita: Not much to recommend. It’s the same for any immigrant: stay open-headed, open-hearted and really look, on the internet, where the industry is that you can collaborate with. It’s the work that will define. If you have a job that you like, your husband too, the rest comes. One day is always better than the other. But it stays open, as Canada is not only Ontario. I had the experience here in my work, from companies in Alberta stealing my employees here. I mean, it stays open, it really goes to other places. Sometimes it’s a matter of a few years, then it changes. But every time it changes, it’s a change for the better, it’s a positive change. It’s a good thing, but also, sometimes, it’s something that hurts: I came across some Brazilians who are here, but they haven’t disconnected from Brazil, because they keep watching the National Newspaper, they keep watching the soap operas, they keep on…you know? They follow soccer in Brazil, they follow politics in Brazil and there is no time left to see what is happening here in Canada. So, this is a danger that the person runs, too. Because you really have to take the time to learn things here.

Christian: is there a more specific profession that the Brazilian ends up getting there or is it general, doesn’t it have a specific thing?

Rita: Look, the Brazilians I met make me very proud, because they are all very hard workers. They have a very good ethics. We get hard, even at work! No problem. But, here is an area more…as it is a mining region…civil engineer, mining engineer, geologists, geophysicists…this mining area takes a lot. The countryside has this problem, which sometimes does not have many opportunities. Then they have to look outside. When it opens an opportunity there’s nobody in the city and they go looking outside, you know.

Christian: And there was a call for immigrants? You commented about India. Do they advertise elsewhere about Sudbury, trying to attract other immigrants?

Rita: They did. For example, here in the city, there is a very good hospital for cancer treatment. And you will find there, a great number of foreign doctors. Because, when they made the hospital, they said: “I won’t steal there from Toronto because it doesn’t work”. So they hired out. So, there are a lot of Indian doctors, there are Brazilian doctors, there are everything. The college here has also been doing a recruitment outside Canada, to attract students with the intention of staying here in the city.

Christian: What is the aspect of violence like for you?

Rita: Timmins was very quiet and I thought Toronto, compared to São Paulo, was quiet. Timmis was very quiet and here it is also very quiet. The violence that is going on and has increased since I came to Canada the first time. When I came to Canada years ago, we didn’t see anyone on the street and today it’s full. But this is a worldwide problem that is the problem of drugs, right? Many drugs, unfortunately this is in all cities.

Christian: What would Rita of today say as advice to Rita of 1994, who was arriving in Canada?

Rita: put your face out there…now you don’t even need the street! Put your nose on the computer, on the internet, look for opportunities, because there are plenty! Go look for opportunities, you don’t get stuck in that place or that place, no. You really are. Nothing is permanent… nothing is permanent! So, a piece of advice is not to expect anything overnight. Disgrace comes from night to day, right? But, a good thing is that little bit will happen. So, my experience has always been: “one day is always better than the other!” What I got didn’t come suddenly, from night to day, but always one day after another.

Christian: our thanks to Rita and now we know why she went to live in Sudbury. And it is worth clarifying that these are opinions, experiences reported by our guests. This does not mean 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 in these places. For you who have come this far, I thank the audience and even a next episode.



Podcast: Ontario Beyond Toronto


  • Direction and interviews: Christian Pedersen
  • Production: Christian Pedersen e Ana Carolina Botelho
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The views expressed in this podcast are the views of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.

Wave Podcast Series: Ontario Beyond Toronto
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