Amie Peacock, a winner of the 2022 Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards, felt pulled away from the Philippines as a young woman. “I never felt a sense of belonging in my home country. As a dreamer, I was curious to see what life had to offer on the other side of that mountain. After my sister moved to Canada, I decided to follow her.”
Leaving a Community Behind
“If you know a little bit about Asian communities, it’s all about people. It’s all about extended families. Everybody knows you and you know everybody. There are no secrets. When I moved away, my sense of community and my network were lost.
For five years, I had one foot in Canada, and one out. As an immigrant to this country, I needed to figure out how to use my background and the context of my past life and mould it into this new environment. The challenge for the newest immigrants is how to build a bridge from our past to present. As soon as I made this commitment, my journey became a lot easier. Making this connection helped me move from frustration into contributing towards something.”
Connecting to a New Community
“A sense of belonging is very important. Loneliness is common to all new immigrants. Being lonely is a part of the process of integrating into a new life. We can use loneliness to take inventory: What is happening in my life? Why am I feeling so lonely? What is missing that I need to start thinking about? It tells us that there is something that we ought to be doing or searching for.
In my case, it didn’t take me long to integrate myself into this culture, into this land. I made the decision that this is the place I wanted to invest in myself and in others. I connected to my library, to settlement organizations, to my church, and to networking groups. Overall, I loved connecting with people because everyone has unique stories to share that we can all learn from. I see the value of connecting with other immigrants especially when trust has been cultivated because there is a comradery feel that is so important. Sometimes though, it is a healthy practice to branch out and include other groups to network with because they can enrich our lives.”
Finding Mentors on the Journey
“I learned, over time, that I am a connector, a bridge between others. In my early journey of founding Beyond the Conversation, I knew nothing about running an organization. I knew nothing about having a team or collaboration. All I knew was I had a vision, and I needed people to help this vision come to fruition. I did an inventory of things that I needed to help me realize my dream and then reached out to people in the community for help. I sought people that I wanted to learn from. Seeing something in them that I wanted to emulate, I would ask them if they were willing to mentor me.
I think everyone should have a mentor in their life. I currently have 6 mentors in different walks of life and I also mentor people. We need to inspire each other with our stories. Each person we meet has rich experiences and stories. If we can share our experiences, as immigrants, we can achieve amazing things.”
Giving Back to the Community
“Every person that I meet has their own barriers. It can be a language barrier, it can be a lack of emotional support, or it can be trying to access the right information. Beyond the Conversation helps people find the support they need when they’re ready for it. Newcomers need time to figure things out. When they are mentally ready, they will take initiative to seek help. Our goal is to be there for them. Accept them without judgment.
I contributed to the person I have become today because of many lessons and wonderful experiences. Now, it’s my turn to give back to the people and the country that have given so much to me. My hope is that by sharing my story, I offer benefits to others from these lived experiences, just as I benefited from the immigrants who came before me.
I want to inspire others to keep dreaming. Dream big things. Be unstoppable. When we dream, we become alive and connect to our higher calling. The word “immigrant” should never define and limit us, it should propel us to “greatness”. Here in this NewToBC blog I am announcing that I am running for the City of Vancouver as an independent City Councillor. I believe I can be the voice for people who have lost theirs. We are here for a purpose, and we don’t have much time. Therefore, we need to continue to do things that are scary sometimes.”
Making a Home
“I was grateful that I landed in Vancouver. I still remember waking up on my first day here and seeing the backdrop of the majestic and grand mountains. To top it all someone told me that the beach is a 30-minute walk and at that moment, I felt “home.” I found my sense of belonging and acute awareness of my sense of purpose.”
Beyond the Conversation is a Vancouver-based non-profit organization founded in 2016 to end social isolation and loneliness through friendship and community. They offer open talk cafes, workshops, forums, and events such as “give a gift of presence” and this year they’re launching a new initiative campaign called “GivingTalents” from September 30 to October 15, 2022. They are committed to fostering a sense of belongingness with youth, seniors, new immigrants, refugees, and anyone who struggles with social isolation or loneliness.
Amie Peacock would like to note that the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award belongs to the entire team at Beyond the Conversation. It is a recognition to all who contributed to making this a success. Every team member involved in this work hard to create a better world. If you’re new to BC, we strongly encourage you to reach out.