Educate Yourself, Immigrants, Just the Facts, Refugees/Asylum/Immigrants

The FACTS about Refugees getting “Free Money”

Welcome Back Blog Readers,

In this post, I’d like to dispell the falsehood of a popular meme that has been spreading across the internet.

Here’s the link to the topic for today:

https://www.politifact.com/facebook-fact-checks/statements/2018/nov/21/viral-image/meme-makes-false-claim-about-refugees-social-secur/?fbclid=IwAR0M6sKKDVSBUUThLJfY1PfcA4jcSXshmavQH84vO0B11UVRJF6woKKV49U

Just a reminder folks, anybody can create a meme about anything; it doesn’t mean it’s true. While there is an abundance of great information on the internet, there is also a great deal of misinformation.

It only takes one second to share false statements; why not take a few more seconds to verify the information before you share it.

Here are the FACTS as it applies the refugees in the USA:

https://immigrationforum.org/article/fact-sheet-u-s-refugee-resettlement/?fbclid=IwAR1tLY-3M5lkKjtYu9rV0sis1Jx0dw6IjlZG4cuv2Eo9O1fUF_DUZ-q5o7U

Here are the FACT as it applies to the refugees in Canada:

https://ccrweb.ca/en/refugees-social-assistance

Here’s a PDF that breaks down the amount(s) and length of time that the various payments are dispersed to eligible refugees and their family.

http://www.usccb.org/about/resettlement-services/upload/Refugee-Assistance-2.pdf

Do refugees receive financial assistance? YES, many of them do if they qualify and are eligible.

How much money do they get each month? That amount varies from State to State and Province to Province as well as other factors.

How long are the payments received? Depends. Sometimes it’s a one time only payment. Eight months is the cut off for most, but in some circumstances, refugees could receive payments a bit longer.

Do refugees receive payments right away? NO. In many cases, refugees have to obtain proof/documents and meet certain criteria before they are deemed eligible. Each family and reason for their refugee status varies.

If you have any further questions, I encourage you to do a bit of research. Google is your friend.

Learn to think for yourself and stop feeling obligated to jump on the refugee/immigration bashing bandwagon. That mentality doesn’t make you more “patriotic.” If it weren’t for immigrants/refugees like your grandparents/great-grandparents, you wouldn’t be able to call yourself a proud American.

 

 

 

 

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Citizenship, Immigrants, Immigration Process, Permanent Resident, Speaking from Experience

On the path to Citizenship

Depositphotos_49557547_l-2015

Welcome Back Blog Readers,

I know that it’s been a while since my last post. Life happens, being an adult means doing things like working to pay the bills and remembering when the important identification cards are about to expire.

That’s what I’ve been dealing with lately. By dealing with, I mean acknowledging that these are tasks that I will focus on, at some point very soon. Just not today.

My Drivers License, Health Card, and Permanent Resident Card all expire in 2020. Naturally, they all require a new updated picture so I can’t renew them online.

One task that I do need to focus on is reading through the Discover Canada study guide and finish filling out the application to start the process of becoming a dual citizen. Since the application time for Citizenship is unknown, I will have to renew my PR card and pay the $50 fee just to be on the safe side. I do have until April 2020 before my PR card expires, but I don’t want to take the chance of having my Citizenship application/test/interview/Oath run longer than that. It’s not worth the risk of having my PR card expire when it’s something I have to hand in during the process.

For those of you that don’t know, a Canadian Permanent Resident card has to be renewed every 5 years. I’ve already renewed it once back in 2014 and being the procrastinator that I am, I thought that I would have already become a Canadian Citizen before having to renew my PR card a second time. Like I said before, Life happens.

What will becoming a Canadian citizen mean for me?

I won’t have to fill out applications or renew a PR card ever again, yay.  Once I get a Canadian Passport, I won’t have to renew my US passport, yay.  I will have all of the same rights as a natural-born citizen, included the chance to vote and serve on a jury (something I can’t do up here). Becoming a Canadian citizen doesn’t automatically mean I’m no longer a US citizen. That’s where the DUAL part comes in.

I can hold both passports (but most likely won’t). I will be able to vote for both US and Canadian elections. I will be able to apply for any benefits that I am eligible for when that time comes. I will still have to file a ZERO return for the USA as well as the Federal/Provincial taxes in Canada every year.  Sadly, filing a US Zero return is required even though I left the US in 2009. It doesn’t mean that I owe, nor do I get a refund. It’s a 1040EZ and another form that basically states that I made nothing for the US to tax me on and I owe nothing. The only way to get out of that is to renounce my US citizenship and pay a hefty fee. No thanks, I’ll pass on that option.

Anyway, that is the news for now.

If anyone has any questions about the US to Canada immigration process, I’m happy to answer and provide links to help you learn more.

One last tidbit before signing off….

For those of you going through the process, DOCUMENT all visits outside of the country. Keep a journal and log each trip, the dates, where you went. Same with all of your addresses going back 5 years and where you worked/studied. this information will be super handy when it comes time to renew your PR card or apply for citizenship later on.

 

 

Abuse comes in many forms, Crime/Punishment, Criminal Justice, Government, Immigrants, Not the Popular Opinion, Religious Beliefs, The World We Live In

A Cornucopia of WTFs

Welcome back blog readers,

I know that I haven’t been posting in a few weeks. Life gets busy, I’m not always inspired, and not everything is worthy of sharing.

Those of you that follow me on Facebook know that I am doing my best not to comment or share anything about #45. Which is difficult as he attributes to many WTF moments and thoughts. I don’t like contributing to making stupid people famous, or in this case, more famous as I find that sharing only does more harm than good.

WTF topic #1: WTF is really going on at the southern border?

The only news that seems to be shared is that the large migrant caravan has made it to the U.S border, families have been separated/detained. Several immigrants have died, including infants/toddlers and those humanitarians that want to help are being arrested for trying to bring water and necessities.

We are shown many pictures of detained people sleeping on the concrete with aluminum foil blankets, and they are being denied basic hygienic products like soap and toothpaste. There are many claims of children being abused, it’s just choas. Nobody is allowed to go in to verify the wellbeing of those detainees, and they are being treated worse than convicted felons in prison.

Do we know if any of the families are actually being processed to allow them safe/legal entry?

If the U.S knew (which I have to assume they did know) that they would not treat these families with humanity, why didn’t they simply turn them away or give them the option to turn around leave? Let them know what life would be like for them, let them know they would be separated from their kids/spouse, sleep on concrete for months, possibly indefinitely. Let those people decide which personal hell is worse.

WTF is Mexico doing to help their citizens? Is the government offering to help keep them safe should they want to go back/leave the detention area? The news coverage on that seems a bit sparse.

 

WTF topic #2: Why are rapists and pedophiles not SERVING the TIME they DESERVE?!?!?!

You know this topic gets my blood boiling. Time after time, no matter how many of us come forward with the truth, share our most profound shame, these assholes rarely serve two years in prison.

It seems like every week, there is a new headline of an accused sexual predator that has abused multiple people or one person over several years under the noses of their peers.  They are offered a plea deal, a slap on the wrist, community service because an actual GUILTY plea would ruin their life, their career, their chance at a scholarship. Well BOO fucking HOO!

The life of their victim(s) are ruined forever, life for them will never be the same. These sexual predators shouldn’t be allowed to be back in public, not ever.

What’s worse is that now we have Judges, Lawyers, Prisons, and Religious nut jobs that protect these sexual predators. I’ve said this before, and I’ll keep saying it, Once in prison, rapists are housed together away from Gen Pop, for their protection. Let that sink in!

I’ve also read many headlines that suggest that getting raped is “God’s Will.” Seriously WT actual F! If your god/religion teaches this, get a new religion.

Which is a good segway into the WTF topic #3: Child Brides/ Claiming religion makes it okay to not have morals.

I don’t care if the parent’s consent, the legal age of marriage should be universal worldwide at a minimum of 18. If you are not old enough to buy alcohol, sign a lease or other legal binding contract on your own, VOTE, open a bank account then in my eyes and in the eyes of many you are too young to consent to the marriage.

Men that seek child brides are pedophiles. PERIOD. Sex with a child is still rape, you will never change my mind on that. You can claim that they are your spouse all that you want, that doesn’t change the fact that they are too young to consent, and I don’t care that the parents agreed, they too are part of the problem and should be ashamed.

Religion should not violate human rights.

 

That is all of the time I have today. This post is one that I will update anytime I have a WFT topic to vent about. Chances are, you’ll see this post pop up as I update it.

Government, Immigrants, Immigration Process, Politics, Speaking from Experience, The World We Live In

Immigrants: Fact vs Fiction

Due to the vast amount of misinformation that continues to be regurgitated for as long as I can remember; I thought sharing the FACTS might help put this topic to rest. Not only will I share the FACTS, but I will also supply the source(s) so that you can see for yourself, not just take my word for it.

The first point that should be clarified is that there is a difference between illegal/undocumented immigrants and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR). For far too long, many people have been assuming and making snap judgments that these two groups are the same. They are not.

Illegal/Undocumented Immigrants aka (Illegal Aliens): is a person born in another country (for example Mexico) an enters another country ( for example the U.S.A ) with the intent to live, work, raise a family without going through the proper immigration process. In most cases, they have fled their country due to war, violence, fear for their safety and just want a better life. Their choice to enter illegally may be due to not having the funds to pay for the proper paperwork or perhaps their circumstances are so dire that they have to flee and can’t wait several months to be processed properly. They take that chance.

Any person that does not go through the proper immigration process will not have a social security number. These people will work under the table, seek jobs that pay only in cash, not on an official payroll. Bank accounts can’t be opened in their name, they can’t pay into social security.

If you don’t believe me, check out this link:

https://www.politifact.com/facebook-fact-checks/statements/2019/feb/27/facebook-posts/no-undocumented-immigrants-dont-get-medicare-free/

It’s not to say that some illegal immigrants haven’t tried or were not successful in gaining benefits they were not entitled too. The point is, the federal government isn’t handing out a FREE Welcome package to all non-residents as they cross the border. The government isn’t doing their best Oprah impression giving away cars, drivers licenses, housing, medical/dental insurance plans to all that enter. Not to say that errors have not been made, mistakes fall through the cracks for years before they are detected.

There are programs that undocumented immigrants are eligible for.

Which federal public benefits are available to undocumented immigrants?

In general, undocumented immigrants, meaning people from other countries who do not have a legal right to be in the United States, are not eligible for any federal public benefits.

However, there are instances where undocumented immigrants, including those under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, may be eligible for some benefits that are considered necessary to protect life or guarantee safety in extreme circumstances.

Those include:

  • Emergency medical treatment under Medicaid if the individual meets the other eligibility requirements and the medical condition is not related to an organ transplant procedure.
  • Immunizations for immunizable diseases and testing for and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases.
  • Free public education for grades K-12.
  • Federally subsidized school lunch and school breakfast programs for those eligible for free public education under state or local law.

Undocumented immigrants in some cases may also be allowed services or assistance that were laid out in a 2001 U.S. Attorney General order.

That order included child and adult protective services; programs addressing weather emergencies and homelessness; shelters, soup kitchens and meals delivered to individuals; medical, public health and mental health services; disability or substance abuse services necessary to protect life or safety; and programs to protect workers and other community members.

Here’s the link to the site that I copy/pasted that last bit from.

https://www.boston25news.com/news/trending-now/immigration-can-undocumented-immigrants-get-federal-public-benefits/936951998

For the most part, an undocumented immigrant is going to do their best to maintain a low profile, stay under the radar to avoid being deported. I know that there is also a misconception as to how illegal immigrants are “criminals.” Looks to me that 80% of the prison population is made up of Americans.

Here’s the most up to date data to confirm my statement:

https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_citizenship.jsp

Who’s to say that the entire 20% are all illegal immigrants? I’m betting it’s not many since illegal immigrants tend to be deported and sent back to their country of origin. If they are not being deported, that is on the government to straighten out, not the inmate.

 

Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR):

Lawful permanent resident (LPR) is a classification for people who are not citizens of the United States but who are authorized to live and work in the country.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, people classified as LPRs “may accept an offer of employment without special restrictions, own property, receive financial assistance at public colleges and universities and join the armed forces.”

They are also eligible for certain federal benefits after they have lived in the United States for more than five years. They do not have access to all federal or state benefits and are subject to some limitations on other benefits.

After five years of living in the United States, those who have maintained their LPR status are eligible to apply for the following federal benefits: (These benefits are means-tested, meaning the government determines whether the person applying has the financial means to do without the benefit)

  • Medicaid
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Medicare
  • Public housing

For LPRs to become eligible for Social Security benefits for both retirement and disability, they are required to have completed 40 quarters of work (10 years) in addition to having maintained LPR status for at least five years.

Here’s that link again:

https://www.boston25news.com/news/trending-now/immigration-can-undocumented-immigrants-get-federal-public-benefits/936951998

Here is what I suspect is happening. Many Americans are very quick to judge without taking the time to ask/confirm or even really care to find out if a person with darker skin, bilingual, speaks with an accent, wears non-traditional clothes is an American citizen, or a Lawful Permanent Resident and assumes they are all illegal immigrants.

There are too many videos of this exact type of harassment, these snap judgments being made purely based on hate and racism. This type of behavior is disgusting! Stop feeling threatened by people that look different; chances are, they DO have the right to live, work, raise a family, seek an education, own property, and they are paying taxes just like the rest of us. Here’s a tip, if you do happen to inquire and ask a person about their status and you find out that they are in fact a legit citizen, let it go. There is no need to call immigration to confirm, no need to get in their face and scream racial slurs or insist that they “go home” as if to suggest that they do not belong. Just get over yourself and mind your business.

Please stop sharing those memes and posts that suggest that all illegal immigrants are getting better benefits than the rest of us. These posts only show how racist and uneducated that YOU are. You continue to share such misinformation because you think it makes you more “Patriotic” and feel like a “real American.” Newsflash!!!! The only true Americans are the Native Americans, if you are not 100% Native American, then you too come from a line of illegal immigrants. You know the Europeans (White Men) with their slaves that claimed the land as theirs.

You are no different than the children that are born in the USA (legal American by birth) whose parents are illegal immigrants, just a different generation. Think about that.

Anyway, I hope that you learned something useful as that was the whole point of putting this together.

It costs nothing to be kind, the world needs more of that right now.

 

 

 

 

Crime/Punishment, Criminal Justice, Immigrants, Politics, The World We Live In, Venting

Setting ourselves up to Self Destruct.

Depositphotos_67771567_m-2015

Welcome back blog readers,

There is so much going on, I’m having a hard time knowing where to start. The only thing I can come up with is to ask, What the hell is going on? How did we allow ourselves to get here?

For now, those questions are rhetorical as I don’t expect an actual answer because there is so much that is wrong and while it’s apparent there is so much that is wrong, there seems to be no attempt to fix it. Just little band-aids here, a bit of duct tape there and that should hold… for now… we hope.

Let’s just dive right into this, shall we? In no particular order, and as usual, I’m just going to write off of the cuff, unfiltered as it comes to me.

We have thousands of immigrants being detained and families being forcefully separated at the southern border. There are stories coming out every day about how many children are being abused, neglected, not given medical attention, dying in the holding facilities, not allowed proper representation in the courtroom, and moved into an adult holding facility once they turn 18-years-old. The fact that many children were adopted within the USA seems odd and the fact that there are many statements that indicate that ICE has no idea which children belong to which parents is concerning.

It would be great if we could get news about what is really happening and what the plan of action is for those families. For now it’s just speculation.

The fact that social media doesn’t really share the truth mostly opinions, it’s difficult to find a reliable source for what is really happening versus which headline and twisted version of the truth will sell more copies or get more traffic. The news used to be dependable and unbiased, lately, not so much as all they seem to be interested in is the ratings and interaction or shock value, and less about the truth and what’s really happening.

Next on the list: Fact vs. Opinion

I am a supporter of Science, I believe the earth is round because it has been proven, there are pictures to prove that fact. I believe that Climate Change is a concern because the human population has increased significantly in the last 100 years, 500 years, since the Ice Age. Humans create heat so logic would dictate that as the human population increases, so would our surrounding area. More humans mean that we are clearing more land, losing trees, ruining creature habitats, and going through resources at a faster rate. Let’s be honest, we are not as eco-friendly as we should be; if anything we are creating more ways to pollute and be wasteful.

It’s getting to the point where it’s becoming more tempting to live off of the grid and take a page from Amish living. Modest, downsize, grow enough food for yourself and live tax-free.

Following along with the Fact vs. Opinion theme:

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate… To protect yourself and others against Measles, Mumps, Typhoid, Polio, and other incurable diseases that can be avoided or risk taking the chance to becoming infected or infecting others that don’t have a healthy immune system like newborns, the elderly, those undergoing chemotherapy or have an autoimmune disease.

This is where the right to choose gets muddled. While I do have my opinions on this matter, I will refrain from preaching and hope that you all know enough to do what’s right because it’s not always about you.

I’ll just encourage you to do the research and get the advice from professionals and ask yourself why certain diseases have made a huge comeback when up until 5-10 years ago there were significantly fewer cases.

Moving right along… How can the USA continue to claim to be the land of the FREE when the rights of its citizens are being taken away?

Those that are able-bodied pass the physical exam and want to serve their country can’t due to fear. Not from fear that they have, but rather the fear of homophobics and transphobics. Members of the LGBTQ community have been serving right along until the recent ban. Rather than banning members of the LGBTQ community from serving, how about banning all phobics from serving as they are the problem.

What am I saying? The bullies never get punished, it’s the victim that is always forced to quit, move, transfer, resign, get demoted and feel that somehow they are wrong or the problem. I’m not a stranger to being bullied as I have endured my fair share of it throughout my life. At school, in the workplace, online and it sucks. Especially when you’ve done nothing wrong and you’re the one that gets punished, it’s very frustrating.

Having your opinions is one thing when they don’t interfere with the lives of other people. Color your hair, try a new hairstyle, put pineapple on your pizza, invest in real estate instead of putting your money in stocks. No harm was done and you have the freedom to choose. That is all the rest of us want, the freedom to choose what is best for us.

Why are there so many people that feel the need to cram religion down the throats of others and push their beliefs into the laws that affect EVERYONE? Religion is PERSONAL, not UNIVERSAL! If your religion says not to eat pork, then don’t eat pork, don’t force everyone to stop eating pork. Your religion is not the only religion, the higher power that you pray to is not the only higher power, just be respectful and mind your own business.

The fact that religion is creeping more and more into the government, public schools, and the health care system is not what is best for everyone. Making choices for you based on your religion is great… for YOU! Forcing me to follow your beliefs goes against my religion. That is why there should be a separation of church and state, and separation for church and public school, and church and medical care. While you might not accept that transgender folks might want surgery to change their body, let that be their choice, not yours.

You may not believe in abortions, that is fine, don’t have one. I believe that women have their reasons for wanting one, they will be the one to live with that choice. Not you, not me, but them. Let women choose and don’t make her feel shitty about it. If you believe she will go to hell or that all those in the LGBTQ community are going to hell (for merely existing), that is not your business. Stop inserting yourself and your beliefs into the lives of thousands of others that didn’t ask for your opinion.

In recent news… Privilege, Bribes and Lack of Merit.

Parents and celebrities are getting arrested for paying off colleges to have their kids admitted because, well because they can. We wonder why there is such an issue with entitlement, nobody is wondering, we all see it. If you have enough money you can pay off just about anybody to get in or out of just about any situation. Politics, Presidency, Prison, Ivy League College.

I want to see some accountability!!! It’s hard to make the changes that need to be made when the rules don’t apply to everyone and exceptions are made for the elite. Reading the stories of injustice day after day, week after week has me thinking that we are not going to get ourselves out from the mess that we created. We have left the era of community and it taking a village, now we are allowing greed to take over and it’s not pretty. It’s only going to get worse. We have lost sight about what it means to come together and have reverted back to every man for himself.

I know, not my most chipper post, but I needed to get it out of my system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crime/Punishment, Criminal Justice, Government, Immigrants, Politics, Venting

The Great Wall of Trump

 

 

Welcome back blog readers,

Let me start off by saying, that if you are FOR/PRO the wall, then you may as well stop reading.

I’m so tired of hearing about this stupid and unnecessary “Wall” of hate. There is no way that Mexico is paying for it, nor should they be expected to fund it. The American people (the majority of us) aren’t going to pay for it (willingly). Trump himself and all of his millions don’t seem eager to fund his own project. So that leaves us exactly where we are now, no funding, no plans, no blueprints = NO WALL.

 

Finally, somebody is finally saying what we have all been thinking.

Trump’s decision to force the government to shutdown is the equivalent to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. He’s just holding the American people hostage until he gets his way. Meanwhile, while many government-supported services like TSA, Air Traffic Control, NASA and Homeland Security are working with a skeleton crew, those that are showing up to work are not getting paid until AFTER the shutdown. According to Trump, this shutdown could last months, even years until he gets what he wants.

https://globalnews.ca/video/4814144/irony-of-shutdown-over-border-funding-it-affects-the-department-of-homeland-security-too

The irony over this shutdown is over security, meanwhile, there is a complete lack of security throughout the nation. Trump is so concerned over the idea that Mexicans and Central Americans will cross the border illegally that he’s willing to jeopardize the entire country, force government workers to continue working without pay, families are in danger of losing their homes, single moms on welfare can’t get food stamps.

Does it occur to Trump that getting over a Wall is not the only means of entering the United States. People are allowed to drive across the border to shop, to visit, to spend the weekend. People can book a flight across the border, they can travel by train or greyhound, let’s not forget that people can also travel by boat or other watercraft. Having the biggest Wall at the southern border would be useless. As Trump as stated himself in 2004… About 12:30 in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQqjSPsvA0E#action=share

People that are trying to cross the southern border aren’t doing so because they want to harm anyone. They are not all killers, rapist, terrorist, in fact, many are families and children hoping to make a better life for themselves. Yes, there is a right way to do that. Instead of building a WALL to keep people out (Americans in); why not build several immigration centers to HELP families that want to start over, want to work, want to feel safe as they are escaping worse conditions in Central America. Let’s not assume all of those migrating are Mexican, they are not.

Not only should we set up immigration centers to assist those families that are refugees, but rather than detaining children and separating them from their parents, we should consider building temporary housing near the border because that would be the HUMANE way to treat people and help keep families TOGETHER. Not keep them in cages, fire tear gas at them or assault them when they are unarmed with child in tow.

Let’s be honest… America is housing hundreds of thousands of CRIMINALS that are US citizens. Criminals of all shapes, sizes, colors and ethnicity. They are not all black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Mexican or other minority because there are plenty of white males and females that also deserve to be in there.

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2018.html

Yes, of course, protect the borders and ensure that those coming in and going out have the proper documentation, I’m not arguing that point. My point is, what good is a giant wall that spans the entire length of the southern border if we don’t have enough border agents to patrol every inch of it 24 hours each day 365 days each year. I’d imagine that they too would require housing close to the border. Why not spend more money on creating jobs that protect the southern border, than a wall that will only be damaged, covered in graffiti and need to be maintained. To me it just seems like a huge waste of resources when that kind of money (if it gets raised) could be put to better use.

There are US citizens in need of financial assistance, housing assistance, homeless, sick, and an entire city that still needs clean water (FLINT, MICHIGAN). Spending billions on a wall because the President “wants” one and for the notion of “feeling safe” doesn’t justify shutting down the government and making the USA more vulnerable to attacks or forcing government employees to work without pay (to be paid eventually) isn’t what the majority of Americans want. Kind of like when Trump was elected, it wasn’t what the MAJORITY of Americans wanted. Again, just being honest.

Clearly, I’m not for the wall, was never for the wall, nor would I feel safe if a wall was built as there are plenty of evil doers north of the southern border, I include Trump as an evil doer. I can’t help but feel that all of the focus on the wall is another means of distracting us from another sneaky bill that will be passed while we’re too busy looking the other way.

We’ve heard from the government a few times that they will not negotiate with terrorists, so why is this any different. Trump is playing the part perfectly, making outrageous demands that he knows can’t be met. The government doesn’t get paid by the president, they get paid by us, the people, the taxpayers. I say they should continue working as they normally would. Ignore the tantrum and Trump will have to find another way to soothe himself and his oversized ego.

My rant is over, carry on…..

Home, Immigrants, Living Abroad, Moving, Speaking from Experience

Driving across Canada, 2009

lake superior

Welcome back blog readers,

Yesterday’s topic inspired another idea for a blog post; that idea was to share my experience as I drove over 2,000 miles from Massachusetts to Calgary after being allowed entry as a Permanent Resident. I think sharing my learning curves is also worth mentioning.

While my husband is originally from the Ottawa area, he had moved out to Calgary two years prior to us meeting. During our dating/engagement period he made several trips down to Western Massachusetts to visit me. Sometimes for a couple of weeks, sometimes for a few months at a time. As you might expect, traveling over that distance does get expensive; he made the choice to stay with his grandparents in the Ottawa area to help bridge the gap and allowing me the chance to drive up to visit him.

When we finally received my passport with the Visa we could start making solid plans to pack up and decide on how we were going to get to Calgary. I decided to leave on the weekend after Thanksgiving (US/November) and I “landed” as a permanent resident at the Alexandria Bay border between Watertown, New York and Mallorytown, Ontario. Since my husband’s grandparents were only a 40-minute drive away, we stopped by so that he could pick up a few things and we could spend the night before making our long journey west.

Since we were in the winter season, we kept a close eye on the weather that was tracking from the west to the east. Calgary had just been hit with a massive snow storm, if memory serves me correct, I’m pretty sure it was a blizzard or what Canadians call an Alberta Clipper and it was making it’s way east across Canada. My husband’s grandparents suggested that we stay a few days to avoid driving in those harsh conditions. We agreed that was a good idea and we kept an eye on the weather and the news before heading out four days later once the storm passed us.

Just to give you a sense of time and distance:

  • From Western Massachusetts to Ottawa, Ontario- Driving time roughly 6-6.5 hours and 400 miles/644 kilometers
  • From Ottawa, Ontario to Calgary Alberta- Driving (non-stop 36 hours) we stopped every 8-12 hours, spent the night at a hotel and switched drivers, it took us 2 days to get out of Ontario and another 3 days to drive to Alberta. From Ottawa, we stopped at Sault Ste. Marie, ON and Thunder Bay, ON then Winnipeg, Regina and finally Calgary for a total distance of 3,500 miles/5,632 kms having followed the Trans-Canada highway for most of our journey.

The scenic mountain picture with the green trees was taken at Thunder Bay when we stopped for the day. The other picture is of Lake Superior as we still making our way through Ontario. Due to the lack of snow in both pictures, I suspect those were taken on our drive back 2 years later (in July 2011) after we learned NOT to drive on the Trans-Canada highway in the off season (many gas stations are closed) which is a stretch of highway mainly used by truckers.

The scenery through Ontario, beautiful with lots of green trees and a view of the Great Lakes for two days. Lots of steep hills and hair pin corners with plenty of places to stop, eat, refuel along the way (during the open season). It was a little unnerving driving through, knowing that your getting low on gas and hoping the next gas station would be open. Part of my nervousness stemmed from the fact that I was so familiar with miles/gallons and all of the signs were reading kilometers/litres and knowing that the gas gauge reading may not have been accurate as we were climbing steep inclines. Once you get into Manitoba the land gets flat as you’ve entered the Prairies. It’s pretty much the same in Saskatchewan except you can start seeing the Rocky Mountains in the distance as you get closer to Alberta and steadily climbing in elevation. All of a sudden you see city lights, lots and lots of city lights and the closer you get the more lights you see. That’s Calgary! After 5 grueling days of driving through the snow, stopping at hotels along the way, we had finally made it.

For anyone considering making the same journey, avoid traveling in the winter if you can help it. If you can’t help it, make sure your vehicle has snow/winter tires (I did not). Also, make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid, not just topped off under the hood, but have extra available because if the wintery slush doesn’t cover your windshield the large bugs will.

Anyway, that is all that I have time for today.

Safe travels~ Hannah