Meet CAP Member Erika Tan
Erika Tan and her family became Canadian citizens on March 2nd, 2018, and she received her CAP card shortly afterwards.
“My family has been using the Cultural Access Pass from the moment we received it,” says Erika. “We are very grateful and this whole experience could not be any better. We learn so much about the rich culture and history of Canada every time we visit a new place. Thank you!”
Learn about Erika Tan’s journey to citizenship and belonging in Canada in a story written by her:
A New Hope and Beyond
One Sunday afternoon, my daughter and I were learning the notes of “O Canada” on the piano. I looked at my daughter and thought about all of the great opportunities she will have in this country. As we were playing the notes, I could not help to sing the National Anthem while I reminisced about the journey my family took to come to Canada.
Unlike many fellow immigrants, my family did not flee from a war-torn country nor were we running away from any political disputes. My husband and I came to the United States as students; he from Colombia and me from Indonesia. Although we are from opposite ends of the world, speak different first languages, and come from different cultures, the phrase “opposites attract” really applies to us. Despite, or because of, our differences, we got married and were blessed with two beautiful children. However, after living in the country for twelve years as young professionals, we found no prospect of attaining permanent residency in America. The option of going back to either one of our home countries seemed arduous and we were afraid of losing the unique family dynamic that we already created in North America. In the midst of desperation, an opportunity to submit our permanent residency applications to Canada emerged. Despite the application process being a lot of work with many steps to follow, it went relatively smooth. After waiting for two long years, we finally received a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada informing us that our application had been accepted.
We immediately started the process of relocating to Canada by giving away many of the belongings that we had accumulated over the last twelve years to friends and family. We proudly secured the “For Sale” sign in front of our house ready for the next family to move in. By the time we were ready to move, we were left with nothing but a few pieces of luggage filled with clothes, shoes, important documents, pictures, and a few treasured items. Our decision to bring only clothes to Canada was for the sake of simplicity of moving intercountry. I remember looking at the empty spaces in our old house and my heart filled with so much hope. We did not know what the future would look like at that time but somehow we knew that everything was going to be just fine.
After driving those ten long and anxiety-filled hours, we finally reached Coutts, Alberta to cross the U.S.-Canada border. Regardless of the preparations my husband and I took as we carefully packed our belongings compactly into the car together with our small children to set our future in Canada, we worried that it was still not enough. We prepared every single document pertaining to our lives just in case the Immigration Officer had any doubts of our legitimacy. The Immigration Officer asked some routine questions at the gate such as whether we had any firearms, alcohol, or tobacco and we told the Officer that we did not bring anything except clothes. After the officer looked at our documents, we were asked to park our car and enter the office for them to process our arrival.
“Welcome to Canada,” said the Immigration Officer while stamping away at our documents without even looking up. It was not a friendly gesture, more like a robotic, habitual greeting, but we accepted it with [gratitude] nonetheless. The big, broad smiles on our faces were not even close to reflecting how happy and full our hearts were. Stamped documents in hand, we piled back into the car and drove towards our new life. Without really understanding the meaning of the big, wooden “Welcome to Alberta – Wild Rose Country” sign, we stopped anyway to take a family picture to commemorate the moment. I welled with pride during that moment when my husband softly whispered in my ear, “We are home.”
A few years have gone by since our arrival and we have settled in fine; actually more than fine. Today, I feel truly blessed to live in this bountiful and great country called Canada. The feeling of immense gratitude that I share with millions of other immigrants and refugees towards the people and the country with their open arms, vast generosity, and blatant kindness is beyond words. Not only has Canada welcomed our family, but it has also embraced us, making us part of its great mosaic. This feeling of open acceptance is what makes Canada one of the best countries to live in. We owe this country so much and appreciate every opportunity it has given especially for our children with regards to education, acceptance, and security, and the only thing we want to do is give back to the community and continue this cycle of giving. This year is particularly poignant being the Sesquicentennial of Confederation, and we are proud to join the rest of the country as we celebrate Canada, this great place we call home.
About CAP: For nearly 10 years, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) has delivered the Cultural Access Pass (CAP), an innovative, best-in-class program that gives new citizens access to Canadian culture. It’s time to shift CAP to the digital age. Support the ICC.