Book Review — Coming to Canada by Chidi Iwuchukwu

'Tosin Adeoti
6 min readApr 27, 2022

This morning, I finished “Coming to Canada: The Ultimate Success Guide for New Immigrants and Travelers” by Chidi C. Iwuchukwu. Chidi is a Canadian citizen who moved to Canada almost 6 years ago. The book was published in 2021.

In ten short chapters which could take you just one day to read, Chidi gives us a product of his Canadian journey. This is not about the process of migrating. It is a book you would need when you have the go-ahead from the Canadian authorities to go over. He will not tell you how to apply or what documents you need to be accepted. It has a very specific audience: those set to go to Canada.

After an accomplished career of more than 10 years in the banking industry in Nigeria, Chidi decided with his wife and his three boys to leave the Green-White-Green country for the Great White North. From personal interactions, Chidi confided that despite leaving at a relatively advanced age compared to most immigrants to Canada, this is a decision he has no regrets over; an experience he has enjoyed tremendously.

However, while you may expect to see his enthusiasm about Canada reading the book, it would prove to be one of the most down-to-earth books about Canada you would ever read. He is unhappy that many people come into Canada unprepared. Many times, they are not willfully unprepared, it is simply that there is not a simple and accessible compendium of information to get them prepared for the challenges ahead. For instance, while he and his wife have postgraduate degrees, decades of experience in the financial industry as well as profitable entrepreneurial experience, it took them six months to find a job. He wished he had a book like this that provided them with suggestions and information before landing.

His experience helping newcomers settle in his new country informed the information in this book. He has gathered so many useful tips from his work helping at least 10 families settle in Canada. While it took him 6 months to get his first job, he has helped newcomers find paid employment in Canada in as little as one month.

The very first thing he lets the reader know is that relocation is never easy. There are so many things to think about. You are leaving behind among other things a career, a fledgling business, a familiar environment, and a network of friends and family for a vision only you can see. It is therefore important to arm yourself with as much information as possible. Many people may not have heard of the struggles people have after settling but it is real. The picture you may have is of a land where everything works out once you get off the aircraft. The reality may be somewhat different though, so it is wise to prepare. You will experience the good, the bad, and the ugly in the new land. Settling in a different country is not easy in the short term. The author says he knows people who arrived in Canada with enthusiasm and left some months later disgruntled. They could not cope with the transitions they had to go through.

For instance, everyone knows Canada is very specific and strict about its requirements for granting you permanent residency by way of work experience, educational background, and ability to fund the relocation process. However, these qualifications and experiences are the first to be discounted once you land in Canada. Sometimes it would appear that there is disconnect between the government’s policy and employers’ expectations of foreign-trained immigrants. The statistics show that only one in four new immigrants work in their field or match their qualifications. The reality of the job situation for newcomers is a circular dilemma: You need Canadian experience to get jobs in Canada. However, you need jobs to get Canadian experience.

This can be very discouraging to the newcomer but Chidi has specific instructions for you to follow. And he should know. He’s heavily involved in helping people settle. He is the Director of Humanitarian Services for the Igbo Cultural Association of Edmonton. He is an Enumerator for the Alberta Elections. In less than 10 years, he has won his first election in Canada as a member of the Board of Governors, Edgemont Community League. He says the key is being a volunteer as soon as possible. Not just any kind of volunteering though. He lays out specifically what to look for in volunteering in the book.

There are several other discouraging things a newcomer could face such as the fact that your phone may not work. You may need to buy another type of phone to communicate in Canada. You may also realize that your driving skills and history do not matter. Driving is highly regulated in Canada. Many people have had to start all over again if they don’t adhere to the instructions he laid out in the book.

There are also things to do if you don’t want your kids to be demoted in their new classes in Canada. It doesn’t matter what grade your child is in Nigeria, if you don’t provide specific documents, you have no say in the class they put your kids in. This, from his experience, has led to discouragement on the part of the parents and the kids. So you have to be prepared.

He talks of the things to do in your first two weeks, which are usually the most hectic. They are busy days, as there are several things that you need to sort out as quickly as possible. Knocking them off your list will get you into the relevant government records, lay the foundation for other things to come, and give you a sense of quick accomplishment. That sense of win is necessary to continue your momentum.

He talks of the mandatory SIN, opening bank accounts, preventing financial stress, guarding your mental health, and organizations that exist and are dedicated to helping provide basic needs as a stranger in a new land. He talks of the culture of Canadians rarely volunteering information or helping without prompting. You have to ask. But as soon as you ask, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of assistance they would be willing to give to you. You just have to ask, they will not volunteer.

As a Nigerian, you have to be careful with credit cards. Coming from a country where cash is king and the best you often get is a debit card, access to a credit card could turn your life upside down if you are not careful. There is nothing you cannot get on credit in the Western world. If you borrow from your credit cards and do not pay or refuse to pay, you will be blacklisted. Buying now and paying later is a familiar struggle for newcomers, especially those from countries where financial inclusion and access to credit are very low. He offers tips to preventing this.

Depending on where you are coming from, some things you see in Canada may shock you even if you have read about them. For instance, coming from Nigeria where per the constitution a husband cannot rape his wife, harassment of any kind is a big deal in Canada. Making negative references to one’s culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, and unwanted sexual comments could get you in trouble in the workplace. Homosexuality is legal in Canada. In fact, it is the fourth nation to legalize same-sex marriage in the world. If you come from a country where homosexuality is banned outrightly and gay people are punished, you have to change your mindset. In Canada, there are protected rights. Be particularly careful in seemingly casual conversations on these subjects.

There are a lot of great things about Canada: The Canadian healthcare system is world-class. Their passport is highly respected. There is credit for cars and homes. Communication is respectful. Crime is low. Children and the elderly are prioritized. Things work. There is reliability. Canada works because people do not make excuses; they produce results. You will quickly notice that snow showers, cold weather, and even accidents on the way to work may not be acceptable excuses for you not to do your job. Everyone goes about their life because they assume that you will do what you have committed to do and do it to the expected standards. If you do not show up, you create a gap in the chain. An attitude of excuses is punished.

Chidi has produced a guide that would benefit a lot of people going to Canada. Even more, because Canada shares a similar outlook to any other country in the developed world, the information, while Canadian in outlook, will be of immense value for people migrating to the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

The book is rich in guidance on how to survive your first few months in Canada and on ways of continuing to be a valuable member of Canadian society.