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New Beginnings with Richmond Public Library

Starting Out in a New Country

I proposed the idea of immigrating to Canada to my husband and daughters many years ago, but they felt Shanghai was their home. Fast forward to 2009, my family and I visited Toronto, Montreal, Victoria, Vancouver, and Richmond. This trip changed their mind. They were attracted to the friendly people, the good education system, and the beauty that this country had to offer.

New beginnings at the Richmond Public Library

Shelly Gu, the author

My part-time job for an organization in Ontario helped us obtain our Visa. When I mentioned to my employer that I thought of moving to Canada, they applied for an AEO (Arranged Employment Opinion), and my immigration visa approved me as a short-term Skilled Worker.

Since I had a part-time job in Ontario, I originally thought of settling in Toronto. I was advised that it was not necessary to work in that location. As well, I heard that Toronto was cold! During our previous visit to Canada, we enjoyed Vancouver and Richmond the most. After I was awarded my visa in 2013, we visited the Vancouver area in the 2014 Chinese New Year to choose a city to settle in.

We had a good friend in Richmond who had lived there for ten years and made the decision to move nearby so that our families could be close together and help each other out. It was the right decision. Richmond has good weather, nice organizations, it is convenient, and the people are friendly; it is just ideal in every way. The biggest surprise for me moving to Richmond is that there are so many Chinese people living here. You can easily get by without speaking English.

Settling Into a New Home

I discovered the Richmond Public Library’s (RPL) Library Champion Project through my husband’s classmate who participated in this project. Through this, I was able to learn about the services that the library provided and introduce this to my friends and neighbours. Many of them, like me, were so excited to discover more about their libraries. There are so many activities and services to attract people to the libraries and most are free! I shared information from the Richmond Public Library WeChat with my friends. When talking to other parents when dropping off/picking up my children at school, I found this a good conversation starter when meeting new people. We all enjoy the many lectures that our libraries have to offer. They are so useful and engaging!

The libraries in Shanghai are bigger than those here. I have a feeling that the larger libraries, such as the Shanghai Library or Shanghai Pudong Library have more books compared with Vancouver Public Library or Richmond Public Library, but they do not have the many programs, lectures, and free services that we have here. The main function of libraries in Shanghai is access to newspapers, books, and checking data. Here we can borrow many more items per person than in libraries in China.

Balancing the Old and the New

When we moved here, I missed my parents the most. My parents were nearing 80 years old and did not want to come with us. They lived with my family for long time, and they were very sad when we moved to Canada. Each time when we came back, they were so happy, but at the time of saying goodbye, my mother would cry and be sad for long time. She passed away two years ago, and I miss her very much. I wonder, if we had not moved to Canada, would my mom have lived longer?

My father came to stay with us for three months after my mom passed away. He likes Canada and is satisfied with our life here, but he needed his own home, his neighbours, and his friends so much that he decided to stay in China.

If I were to do it again, maybe I would apply for immigration later, when my parents no longer needed us, or when we found a suitable business we could do in Canada, but for my kids, I think it was the best decision to move to Canada as early as possible.

New Beginnings at the Richmond Public Library

Shelly and her family in their new home