Why living in Innisfil? Interview with Leonardo Rodrigues

Podcast Ontario Beyond Toronto (English transcript): In this episode, we spoke with Leonardo, who has been in Canada since 2009. He and his family have been living in Innisfil for five years now.

Audio in Portuguese. Read the English transcript below.

Audio in Portuguese. Read English transcript below.

The city of Innisfil- location

Why living in Innisfil? Interview with Leonardo Rodrigues.
Transcripts (Automatic English translation – unedited)

Christian: Welcome to a new episode of Ontario beyond Toronto, a podcast of Brazilian Wave Canada. My name is Christian Pedersen. In this issue we want to know: why did Leonardo Rodrigues move to Innisfil? Leonardo has been in Canada since 2009. He and his family have been living in Innisfil for five years now. Innisfil is a town of 34,000 people located north of Toronto, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Barrie, which is the largest city in the region.

Ontario isn’t just Toronto, the Brazilian Wave podcast

Christian: Hello Leonardo, welcome to Ontario, not just Toronto.

Leonardo: How can I help the community and tell my story.

Christian: You have lived in Canada again. Why did you choose Canada the first time?

Leonardo: Let’s start at the beginning. When I was 18, I went to study in the United States. I spent almost six years there, I stayed in the state of Alabama (south of Alabama and north of Florida, in that area) and I went to Brazil. But when I arrived in Brazil, after almost six years, I no longer adapted. So I said, “ah, I want to go to North America, to any country”. But I didn’t want the United States. So then some friends in Canada said, “Come here, it’s pretty cool. There’s only one problem: the cold”. I said, “Oh, that’s okay, we’ll adapt”. I arrived in March, the first time, right at the end of the cold. There was still snow, but the cold I got was very quick, so I was able to adapt easily. Then spring, summer, and again the cold started. But this was never a problem for me, even though I was from Recife, was it? I always adapted well to the cold. I don’t have any problems. I like the cold! These days I do ice fishing, which is fishing on the lake. I love it! Winter is not a problem for me! I’ve always lived in Toronto, a big city with more facilities, public transportation, banks, everything we needed was right downtown, as we call it.

Christian: So you went back to Brazil?

Leonardo: Yes. Because for almost three years [in Canada] it was decided that this was my place. And Brazil was already a thing of the past. It wasn’t even plan B. Plan A was to live in Canada, plan B was to live in Canada, and plan C was to live in Canada. And it was just when I arrived in Brazil, through a friend who lived here with me, that I met my wife. When I arrived there, she was on the same project, except that she was a little earlier than me to come to Canada. So I said, “Ah, come on!” I liked it and we got married thanks to Canada and we ended up together. But she made it a condition for wanting to live in Quebec, in Montreal.

Christian: And why Quebec?

Leonardo: First of all, that the process we did was the Quebec process. So we studied French and we did the whole process. And she wanted it! We already had some common friends who lived there and who also did the process. So I agreed with her. But inside me, I disagreed. But then I said, “Let’s go”. When we arrived, she herself saw that the reality was different. The difficulties in Quebec, in Montreal that we went through, that first arrival there, it wasn’t so cool. As I experienced in the United States and here in Toronto, where everything goes fast, in Quebec you have to give it a lot of time to start sinking.

Christian: Why do you think that? Because of the culture on the French side?

Leonardo: Their culture, exactly. Their culture is very closed. You speak French fluently with little or no accent to be able to impose yourself. You have to have some experience: this first Canadian job, it is very demanding. And so is the question of education. You want to work from…it doesn’t matter, as a packer in a supermarket, you have to have what is called CGEB there: you have to have the technical course. It’s not just a matter of getting here and starting to pack. They are very demanding in this respect. So, outside the barrier for those who come, it’s difficult. I said, “Oh, I know the gates there in Toronto, I know the way, so it’s going to be easier than staying here. And she agreed with me, discreetly. Thank God we are doing very well now, and she doesn’t regret that decision.

Christian: You already had experience in Toronto, but when you came to stay, was it different? Was it easier?

Leonardo: No. That’s exactly what… when I proposed that we move to Toronto, that’s exactly what it was. I got here, I remember, I took a bus, I dropped her off in Montreal and I said, “I’m going to Toronto to see how the labour market is doing. I came on Sunday. On Monday, I think before noon I called her from my new phone in Toronto and I said, “Listen, I found a job, we already have a place to live. Pack your bags and I’ll come back for you. That way… you can’t compare! Sometimes I play with my friends from Montreal who are two countries: “we are in Canada and this is the country of Quebec”. I tell the guys: “if you have a problem at the border, let me know and I’ll send a letter to the migration officer to get you in”.

Christian: It’s just that it’s a very different culture.

Leonardo: They are more European. The French, they are like that. The English, it’s different from Europe. And [in Ontario] we have the English culture of work, of production, of culture. In Quebec, it’s that slow motion. It’s the same thing… it’s half Brazilian: there’s always a tomorrow: tomorrow we do it. They like it more, like, they value the pub a lot. We, here, it’s more work, work, work.

Christian: To find housing in Toronto, this second time, was it quiet?

Leonardo: Yes, he had no problems because I already knew that. I had the first experience, I already knew people. When I had a problem, I already knew where to run to solve it. So it was just a question of adaptation, in fact. More difficult was my wife’s. But we adapted easily because I had a large group of friends in common. When you’re with friends it’s easier to adapt. She is really complaining a bit today, about the language. Because she has studied a lot of French and now she has to use English. Thank God we went one way… we’ve always had this entrepreneurial side and she’s gotten on board. I think that’s why we get along so well. Because the idea I put in, she comes, she buys.

Christian: Speaking of entrepreneurship, tell us a little bit about the company you’ve opened here in Canada.

Leonardo: I studied in the United States in hotel and restaurant management. So I’ve always worked with the public, managing people. I had clients and I managed employees. I always had a team to manage. I brought this in my luggage and it came out. I worked with other things, of course, in the beginning. But always with the idea of wanting to have my own business. And an opportunity came up. This business: in the right place, at the right time. A person offered to buy a company, which was a cleaning company. She came back with the idea and I said, “You’re crazy! I don’t believe it. I don’t even know who this person is!”. And she said, “No, come on, come on!” She insisted and I said, “Okay.” We bought her and I started working in the company, just in operations, managing people. A cleaning company. The company was small then. As time went by, it grew. That was ten years ago. We continued to grow. I do the operational part and the owner of the company, a Canadian, does the administrative part. We have reached a very good level. About three or four years ago he decided to retire and sell the company. That’s when I said, “Ok, go sell…”. And then he said, “You want to buy?” And I said, “Of course I do”. He made a good price and I bought the company. For the second time, I bought the company. Today, I still do the operational part and the administrative part stays with my wife. We live off the company today.

Christian: Was this change easy? As there was already a company created, there was no need to start from scratch. But what is this adaptation of having a company here, of dealing with people here? What do you do?

Leonardo: I am easy to live with people. When I started working in the company, I already had the employees. Our company is property maintenance. It has offices, cleaning and today the main focus is on shopping centres. We do the cleaning part, the toilet part, we change the rubbish… the outside parking part, we take care of it. All this part. We have more than ten bills today. Thank God, the business is solid and we want to develop further. But we are already on a good footing. So we’re already on the razor’s edge. So we were able to manage my role because I was already working with people management and I knew the shopping centre managers, so it was easier. Some of them… I don’t think they know that I bought the company before today. They think I’m just an agent. And I still do. My ego is not so… I know who I am and I let them think what they want.

Christian: Do you have many Brazilians working with you?

Leonardo: I am easy to live with people. When I started working in the company, I already had the employees. Our company is property maintenance. It has offices, cleaning and today the main focus is on shopping centres. We do the cleaning part, the toilet part, we change the rubbish… the outside parking part, we take care of it. All this part. We have more than ten bills today. Thank God, the business is solid and we want to develop further. But we are already on a good footing. So we’re already on the razor’s edge. So we were able to manage my role because I was already working with people management and I knew the shopping centre managers, so it was easier. Some of them… I don’t think they know that I bought the company before today. They think I’m just an agent. And I still do. My ego is not so… I know who I am and I let them think what they want.

Christian: Do you have a lot of Brazilians working with you?

Leonardo: He was born in the United States, born in Florida. I say he “is the only American I love”. He is American. And then, when I came back to Brazil, I divorced his mother. He lived there [in Brazil] and then he came here [to Canada], when we were already stabilized. I spoke to my current wife, who agreed and he lived here for four years. But unlike me, he hasn’t adapted as well to the cold. In the summer he was doing well, really well! But when winter came… …poor thing! What’s more, he had to go to school, he had to stay at the bus stop. Class started at 7.30 and he had to be at 6.30 in the morning to wait for the bus. It was very complicated for him in winter. In the summer he played football, enjoyed the beach and had barbecues. But in winter… until today he says: “I can’t stand the cold”.

Christian: And why Innisfil? How did Innisfil come to you?

Leonardo: When we started to stabilize with the company (we hadn’t bought the company yet), we had already bought a house in Toronto, we were fine. Bruna, my wife, was already working in the administrative part of the company. And we were already in this slow transition process. The owner of the company, Henry, was already selling us. We had already talked. Bruna was already working in the company to adapt, to already know things, and I was already working in the operational part. Our work was outsourced to a large company, which is American and Canadian. It manages several shopping centres here in Canada, from Montreal to Vancouver, Calgary, has several shopping centres. The director of this company (he likes us very much, the work we do here) has proposed a large shopping centre here in the region, in Barrie. It’s a very large mall; it’s all department stores. It’s a shopping centre complex, this box shop, open corridor And he asked me if I wanted to take care of it: “Look, do you want to take care of it? And I was in Toronto. And I said: “Oh, are you crazy?! Back in Barrie?” Because from Toronto to Barrie, it takes 45 minutes if everything is normal. But then there’s snow, and traffic… there’s only one highway that’s 400. It’s complicated to get there.

Christian: And in summer it’s bad too. People go out for walks in the countryside and that’s where it all ends.

Leonardo: That’s because it’s the lakes, the cottages that people call, which is all the way to the north. When it’s Thursday morning, forget it! At least 10 to 20 minutes to walk a kilometre. Very complicated! Then he said: “I trust you, I need it”. He had another company that did what I do and didn’t do a good job. He said: “I trust you, I need it”. I said, “All right, let me go and see!” When I arrived (I remember), it was a Sunday afternoon. I stopped at the door of the mall and looked, “It was big! And I said, “Wow, I’m not going to notice it!” But, my wife, once again: “No, come on! Let’s go ! We’re going, we can do it”. And I said, “All right, all right.” We got the job and I think for about six months I drove here from Toronto. Especially at the beginning, which requires more on the operational side: building a team, hiring people, getting them into the routine, all that. So it demanded more. For the first two or three months, I was here almost every day, including Saturdays and Sundays. And I was driving, facing that: facing the traffic, facing the snow, facing all these obstacles from one city to another. In the meantime, I started to drive across the city. The mall is in the city of Barrie. And I said, “Why don’t we move to Barrie?” And she started looking for a home. The price was almost half the price from Toronto to Barrie. You see, we were selling our house and there was still half of it left to buy another one here. And the size? A yard we didn’t have! In Toronto, we lived in a townhouse and we thought we were kings! Here in Barrie we lived in a house and the backyard is almost half an acre, which is normal for houses here. Here it’s a more remote area, so the backyards are big, the houses are cheaper. So I started driving around Barrie looking for a house. Until one fine day I strayed off the path and started driving down, overlooking the lake. And when I got there (I never forget that!), I came to a street and the street and the street was sloping. You went down and there was only one more … because the town is up and the lake is down.

Christian: In this case it is Lake Simcoe, which is entirely in the province of Ontario. In fact, it is the fourth largest lake located entirely in our province.

Leonardo: When I got to the top… so when I looked, I saw the sun hitting the lake and the pines near the lake, I stopped the car. Then it came to my mind when I arrived at the beach of Itamaracá, there in Pernambuco. The difference was the coconut trees. When we arrived (because it was a hill) you saw the coconut trees and the sea in the background. That memory came to me! There I said, “Stop looking in Barrie. The place where I want to live now is in Inisfil!”. And that’s where we started … I took her to the same place where I stopped the other day and I said, “come and see if it’s not”, she said, “it’s really similar. It’s not the same … It’s similar”. That’s where we started. It’s a small town, there’s only one street. There is a supermarket, there is the LCBO… [Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which is a Crown corporation, which sells and distributes alcoholic beverages throughout the province of Ontario].

Christian: Innisfil is about an hour and a half north of Toronto, so do you come to Toronto often or do you stay in Barrie more often?

Leonardo: From Innisfil to Barrie, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Innisfil is a sister city to Barrie. We don’t do anything at Innisfil: we just sleep. If you want to buy something small, you can go to the market, which offers basic items. But the shops that have to do with the big ones are in Barrie.

Christian: And how is the children’s routine going? Schools in Barrie?

Leonardo: Innisfil. There are the schools. We chose to stay in the Catholic Board, in the Catholic schools : there was a school here where the children went. As the children became small… Luan, who is my first, he was two or three years old at the time… he wasn’t even at school. Another thing (I think I skipped that part) that made us come to Innisfil too: apart from the beauty of the lake, the houses being cheaper, the houses with big inner courtyards, we had serious problems at the time to find a daycare centre for Luan. We even had a horrible daycare experience in Toronto.

Christian: Is that the case? What is it?

Leonardo: It was a very mixed daycare. Bruna didn’t want to leave him in the daycare, she wanted to stay with the child and the director didn’t do it. The police almost came to collect Bruna from the crèche. No, it was serious! They towed my wife’s car. It was a horrible experience. I was even in Barrie and I went down that day to save her. She called me and said, “Come over because it’s bad business here.” And I left Barrie until then. And when we decided to look for a house here in Inisfil and we started looking for a crèche as well, we left the crèche to go home. Then we looked for a crèche here, and we found a Montessori. The daycare she wanted, which was her dream: to be a Montessori. And we were so welcomed! That’s how the big change made us decide. Because that’s when we saw the difference that I still say today: “There is a difference with the people of Toronto and there is a difference with the people of Barrie and Inisfil: the receptivity of people. That desire to know who you are, where you come from, why you came here. Practically, the questions you ask me, the people here are curious to ask them. There is still time to talk, and here in Toronto we don’t have that anymore. It’s just “work, work and work”, “go, go, go”, all the time. When we went to the daycare (I never forget), the daycare owner came to talk to us. We spent more hours talking to him. She had a coffee, went to pick up our son, walked with him and from there he wanted to stay, from the first day. And I said, “That’s it!”.

Christian: At the daycare in Toronto, the daycare to translate, what was the big problem? Was it prejudice?

Leonardo: A mixture of everything. A bit of prejudice, I suppose. Maybe not so much, because Toronto is already a very mixed city. Like… when you’re going to speak English, you speak English with an accent, right? So people don’t have as much patience to try to understand what you’re saying. When you come with an accent, they already treat you differently than if you speak French. So all this and the lack of time! The crèche was clogged and was in the attic [basement] of a blocked children’s building. Because there is a lot of research going on there. So it has to be open, you can’t say no. You have to push more children, you have to take them. There is no limit for children: they don’t worry about that. And all this shocked us. This is not what I wanted for my son, and neither did my wife. It was a shock. When we thought about putting him in daycare, we thought of something good, something nice. I grew up in a daycare centre in Brazil. I always went to daycare because my parents were always working. And I have very good memories! Even as a child, I have memories of the daycare centre where I stayed. And that’s what I wanted for our children, isn’t it? And in Toronto, you didn’t do it. We said, “No, I can’t!” When we got here, it was totally different. It was a small daycare centre with a number… I don’t think there were ten students in the class. She was a very nice teacher with the kid, she played… played outside, she had the hours. Bruna wanted to stay the first few days with him, so he could adapt and she said: “No, it’s OK, I even recommend you to stay”. A totally different approach from here in Toronto. That way you don’t even have to think, “We found the daycare, we found the beautiful, beautiful place (at that distance) with the beach to the northeast. So it’s here. Let’s go now, let’s look for the house”.

Christian: Do the children speak Portuguese, English? What does it look like?

Leonardo: I have a son and a daughter. My daughter, when she came here, came like a baby in her lap. I think she came home, she wasn’t even a year old yet. He was three years old when he came into the daycare and she was a year old, not a whole year old. Inside the house, my wife and I only speak Portuguese. Of course, a few key words, like this: “it snows outside… never “snow”… it’s snow, it’s rain. These are key words like this: car keys. We are almost 100% Portuguese inside. My son speaks more Portuguese. They have a few words… concordance, male, female, plural it escapes again. But he makes it a point to learn. She is no longer my daughter. As she speaks a lot, she goes out talking. What she knows in Portuguese, she speaks it and what she doesn’t know, she sews it with English and leaves! Then she mixes more. But we talk to them: she always asks and answers in Portuguese.

Christian: And the eldest son, how to manage the distance. How is it, because there are two here and one there?

Leonardo: It’s very complicated. It’s difficult as a father, isn’t it? Even my wife (who is not his mother, but who knew him as a child), too. So she has this impact of distance. But it’s quiet. I’m glad he’s here, because he’s close to my parents. So they make up for my absence. He’s there, my parents always have access to him, they go to the beach. They are always very present. My parents have even moved to be very close to him.

Christian: Have they ever come to walk here? Are they going to come?

Leonardo: Yes. Every two years they come here. They like it, they stay for three months. The first time, they stayed six months. But my mother, she says: “Look my son, I think the place where you live is beautiful. Everything is beautiful, wonderful, perfect…” I took her to Niagara Falls, I took her to Montreal, we walked a lot. But even in the summer, during those months of July and August, she is cold. She can’t feel the heat. She said, “I haven’t felt the heat until today!”. She came, she spent the summer, but she couldn’t feel the heat. For my son it is her distance. I have this difficulty, of course, but we always talk. My son, thank God, encourages the same team, that I am Sport. So we always have a game of Sport… we always talk… we always exchange messages.

Christian: Technology makes things much easier these days, doesn’t it?

Leonardo: Yes, thanks to technology, even my parents… my mother has an i-phone, I sent it to her. So she always faces me as a team. When she wants to talk, she doesn’t call anymore. She’s just a team player now.

Christian: What challenges do you see as a father and contractor in Canada?

Leonardo: First of all, they are still… in the pandemic, that’s where I noticed it the most, that we have a bigger challenge as Brazilians. As I said, the issue of language. We still have to do twice as much as a Canadian by birth. Whatever we decide to do here, we have to do twice as much. For you to be respected, for money to open the doors of the market and everything else, because you are Brazilian and an immigrant, you have to walk twice as much. So the work has always taken a lot of time. Until today, it takes a lot of time. So I am more absent from home than my wife, who spends more time with the children. Their education falls on her shoulders. And I am absent. When she had the pandemic, that’s when I got a little more… and it’s a life decision now: to enjoy more time with them, with the family.

Christian: And how is your relationship with Toronto these days? Do you still come here or don’t you want to know anymore?

Leonardo: If you say I have to go there to Toronto now… do you know that bad feeling? That you are going to a trial, that the police are knocking on your door or that I am being punished for something? If you tell me that I have to go to Toronto, I don’t sleep, I’m serious! But I have to go. Most of my business accounts are in Toronto, my office is still in Toronto. We have an office and I rent a warehouse where we keep the material, everything is there in Toronto. But I go once a week, alone, to the office. I go in and out. And my office neighbours go, “ah! I haven’t seen you in a long time”. And I thought, “That’s great, and goodbye!” I took advantage, in a way, of the pandemic, so I didn’t go to work in Toronto too much. I do more things on the phone. Thanks to technology, we can do things better over the phone. There’s the Zoom thing… so I’m using more of that technology and I’m going to Toronto a lot less. Once every fortnight, I guess.

Christian: What about transportation? Do you have buses at Innisfil?

Leonardo: Another little story to tell. I tell my wife: “Where I want to live is where there is no public transport. If the city has public transport, it sucks for me”. And I think about two or three years ago the mayor wanted to introduce public transport in Innisfil. And that’s when the Uber boom started. And a genius (wonderful person!) had the idea that instead of putting a bus, which would take up space in the small streets here in town, he would make a market with Uber. And that’s what they did. Innisfil residents only pay three dollars to walk Uber, inside Innisfil. If I have to call an Uber at home, to go to the market, anything, I only pay three dollars. For 24 hours you have two Uber cars in town. For 24 hours you have to have two cars. If I want to go to Barrie or Newmarket, which are the bigger cities nearby, I pay the normal rate. But for me, driving in the town of Innisfil is only three dollars.

Christian: But if you want to come to Toronto? Do you have a bus, a train?

Leonardo: Here comes the train. But the train is another experience. I said one day: “Oh, I’m going to take the train. I’ve never been on it before: “I’ll try!”. But I have to go to Barrie first. From here to the station, 15 minutes. The schedule: the last morning train to Toronto, it leaves at 7:15, 7:30, I think, something like that. Super early! It’s the last train that goes to Toronto. Then the first train from Toronto to Barrie, I think it doesn’t start until four o’clock in the afternoon. 3:30 to 4 o’clock in the afternoon. If you want, you have to take the bus from Toronto to Newmarket . …about 20 seats. You will spend three hours travelling to your final destination by bus.

Christian: So it’s better to have a car right there?

Leonardo: You don’t have a choice: “it’s a car”. So much so that we have two cars today.

Christian: What about friendships? Do you have friends around? Do you know other Brazilians?

Leonardo: We like barbecues, music, meetings. We have it in our blood. So for a Canadian, it’s a bit weird. We’ve always tried to make friends with Brazilians. Even in Toronto, we were a group of Brazilians. And then, of course, there is a Canadian who is married to a Brazilian… so, for him, we also appreciate the group, but we didn’t get together. And here at Inisfil, there was a small community already big and in Barrie, we started to get along. And here we are, these Facebook groups: “Brazilians in Barrie”, we met a lot of people. Then, “Brazilians in Innisffil”, a group started to appear! Even when we arrived at the first house (because we are already in the second house here). In our first house in Innisfil, I remember, I was having a barbecue (we moved there, I think in August, so we didn’t meet many people), there we were having a barbecue (the meat was there), a lady came (I never forget) and she said: “oh! what’s that? Picanha?”, with that accent! I said, “What do you mean, a Canadian woman meets a picanha?” Then I said, “Yes, it’s picanha.” And she said, “That’s great”. I said, “Come on, you speak Portuguese! With an accent, but speak!”. Her father, a Canadian, lived in Brazil, where he was an English teacher in Florianópolis. And she lived for a while in Florianopolis. But then, after she grew up, she came to live here. But she speaks Portuguese, knows the pagoda . she loves the pagoda, samba, picanha and feijoada. She loves feijoada! So she has become our friend, our neighbour. She also has her companion. Her companion is English. But also, it’s a dismantling! Because they are very Brazilian, like that. So she got on well with us. She was our back neighbour. And then another Brazilian married to a Brazilian woman came too, in the condominium, and we started having these people. And as time went by, in the last few years, many Brazilian couples started to arrive. And the profile of the couples who arrive is similar to ours: a couple with children also of the same age, practically, of our children. And they have married well! We have a nice group of friends here. We have a group… this most closed group: our friends, from Thanksgiving. The same group, which is the family: they stop being friends to become a family. So we always help each other. There is no bad moment: “I have to stay with the child… with the son of one now. I have to pick him up from school, because he’s done something stupid”…”

Christian: And they are all Brazilian?

Leonardo: They are Brazilians. I have neighbours who are Canadian and have good relations. I was here just now, and I said: “I can’t leave, otherwise he will come and talk”. We were there to talk to him, but when we entered their house… “let’s have dinner tonight” … which we don’t have with the Canadians. I would say that 90% of our circle of friends are Brazilians.

Christian: Do you think it’s more cultural or more Brazilian?

Leonardo: I think this is an obstacle that we have put in place. Our life is so difficult: far from our parents, our friends in Brazil, our music, our culture in Brazil. Over there, all week long, we take care of work, practically speaking English all day long. So, under stress. When the weekend comes, this opportunity to rest and go further, here I am, once again, speaking English? I make the choice to want to be with Brazilians: we talk about the same things, the jokes are the same; we put on a song, the guy knows it too. So that makes things easier. It’s for extravagance. Doing a picanha, having a barbecue, talking… sometimes when it’s from the same town: “Do you remember this Carnival, do you remember this song, do you remember this Saint John who arrived? Then the affinity grows. The conversation is more fluid than if it were with a Canadian family, you understand?

Christian: What about security there? What do you think of Toronto and even Brazil? How do you see it?

Leonardo: He doesn’t tell anyone, okay? It’s just between you and me, but I don’t lock my car! My wife and I don’t lock our cars. The front door of the house, if you remember (out of habit), you lock it, otherwise you sleep open. How often do the children go to the garage, take something, take the bike, the cart, the skateboard in the garage and don’t lock the garage door! And there are my tools, the freezer… we have a second freezer in the garage, with meat (which we buy a lot), with lots of picanha and it stays there (I won’t give you my address, see? lol) So there it is, the freezer full of meat and thank God, never, never. Yes, of course… the whole town has this group of teenagers who have gone out to break the car to get pissed off. There are these cases. But if you find a solution quickly and you solve it. But in terms of security… one of our colleagues is a cop here. He is Brazilian. So he comes from this country in the south of Brazil, Argentina. But he is married to a Brazilian woman: he is already Brazilian. He works here in the police. They stay inside the factory all day long and have two police cars, walking around the city and stopping people running around. Sometimes he has an argument at home… these things: the husband fights with his wife, drinks a bit more, things like that. But not stealing, things like that. Nothing, nothing, nothing!

Christian: If a new shopping centre appears in another part of Ontario and you’re asked: do you want to take care of it? Do you want to go there or do you want to stay there?

Leonardo: No, I think… I can go because, of course, it’s the car that drives. If it’s not in Toronto, but up north, I’ll go and see what it is. But to move from here, mainly from the house we have now … I think we came here in a dream, in a certain dream house. It’s the perfect house. I don’t think I’m going to leave here again! I’m just a little bit worried because the town of Innisfil is so good, a lot of people come here and it’s growing a lot. That’s the only thing that worries me. We had one street and it was: one car left and the other came back. Very small indeed! I have a pick-up truck and it’s big. So I have to keep the car in line anyway: if I go a little bit this way or a little bit that way, I’ll get out of the line and get into the lane. They are widening this street so much that it worries me right now!

Christian: What about winter? You said you like it, you don’t care. But, Barrie, compared to Toronto, there’s a lot more snow. Sometimes there’s a storm and it comes first and nothing happens. How do you deal with it?

Leonardo: We had a snowstorm last Sunday. We had almost a foot of snow. So, snow tyres on the cars, buy a good snow blower and off we go! Do what? That’s what’s so funny!

Christian: Go ice fishing…

Leonardo: Go ice fishing! There’s nothing to do: I love cycling and you can’t ride a bike in winter. So what is the sport? What do I have to do? I go ice fishing, I go for a ride on the lake? What’s so funny? I’m going to put on an outfit (I have a hut) and I’m going to make a hole in the ice and stay there. I don’t like fishing, OK? It’s just to get away. Just to have something to do. Walking in the snow… I spend all day cleaning the driveway. The driveway’s always pretty clean.

Christian: What would you say to Leonard who came to Canada the first time and the second time?

Leonardo: I would say that you have a dream and that nothing is impossible here. You were a lawyer in Brazil, you were a doctor, but you went because your family wanted you to. Here you want to be… working in construction, that was your dream… you have a dream here to work in a restaurant, so go for it! You want to be a musician… I have friends who have that dream. You have a law degree in Brazil and you’re a musician here! He lives very well. I even spoke to him yesterday and he said: “ah, I don’t have much money in the account”. But he went on with his dream. And this is Canada! In Canada, you pursue your dreams. The hardest thing is to get out of Brazil! When you get here, everything is easier. You will have the language barrier, the adaptation barrier… the climate adaptation barrier, but you adapt! So, like this: “pursue your dream. Try to walk with the right people, who will help you with accommodation. And they will always be there to give you good advice. You will need a lot of people to help you in case you fall”. It happened to us: we fell a lot to get where we are today, we had several falls. But we have always had people who have helped us, because we have always done good. So we have always had this foundation to help us. Today, we reap what we have planted. And today, we are helping many people. We still have mattresses, we have televisions that we keep for people who come and ask, “Is there this, is there that? Yes, here”. Because we were… the pioneers, weren’t we? We opened for people who come today and that’s cool! It’s good to help! Today, here, we find a little thigh, a pie, people who make the prestige cake for us. So, things we didn’t have ten years ago. Today, there is already a strong community. Thanks to technology, which also helps a lot: click here, do a search … go quietly!

Christian: and you know that many things are relative. It all depends on the person, on the situation. But it’s good for a person who wants to come here to have a story: “look, I saw this story”. It can make the person think differently or become aware of something like that.

Leonardo: Today we are an example for many. I have a team of 25 people in our company today. I have a lot of newcomers who have been here for two, three years. When they start talking about the difficulties they are encountering, I tell them, “Gosh, I’ve been there before. I know what it’s like. So here’s what you do”. That week, on Tuesday, one of my employees was trying to get his driver’s license. To get out of the G1. So I said, “Those are the steps. You won’t get out of G1 straight to G. You have to do G1, G2 and then …”. Because Canadians, no matter how long you drive, want you to do the steps. There’s no point in jumping. And that’s it! So it’s good to be the mirror, to be the example for these people. To be able to tell our stories, our experiences of success (and failure, too) to make their lives easier too. It’s always good.

Christian: We thank Leonardo and now we know why she moved to Sudbury. And it should be pointed out that these are opinions, experiences reported by our guests. Which doesn’t mean it will be the same for anyone else. What’s important in these episodes is that people know a little bit about what it’s like to live in these places. For those of you who have come so far, I would like to thank the audience and even a future episode.

Podcast: Ontario Beyond Toronto

  • Direction and interviews: Christian Pedersen
  • Production: Christian Pedersen e Ana Carolina Botelho
  • Vignettes: Robson DJ Estudio – Participações de Robson DJ and Eric Major
  • Coordenação: Teresa Botelho
  • Website & Digital Marketing: Creative Team Canada
  • Project Management: Teresa Botelho e Regina Filippov

A realization of BRZ Group Inc., Canada


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
Made possible with the support of Ontario Creates