I traveled via bus to the job placement agency for immigrants twice so far. My head exploded at the fact that I had to swallow my pride and ask for help from a government funded non-profit organization designed to help job hunters who aren’t fluent in English.
I was lucky that the agency did not turn me down, since in order to participate in their program, the applicant has to be either a permanent resident or have a work permit. I was appointed a career coach and felt lucky in the sense that I never had one (something overpaid career consultants advise clients to get). The career coach (who has a PhD in Business Administration from his home country) was very helpful in trying to match my skills with the current Albertan job market, as well as giving pointers on how to make my resume more “Canadian”.
<I internally screamed>
After regaining my senses, my career coach complemented me on my English and asked me to consider volunteering to help immigrants pass their English exams. It seems that there are a lot of professionals (engineers, doctors, mechanics, etc) who arrive in Canada ready to share their knowledge only to find obstacles that prevent them from getting hired in the first place. I accepted since the homeless shelters I applied to volunteer for didn’t want me.
I attended a Canadian Workplace Workshop at the agency and witnessed the obstacles the immigrants encountered first-hand: Western culture shock, workplace etiquette they were baffled by : not being able to wear perfume at work, the importance of being pro active in asking questions to your boss about the work and short work contracts. The sad part of all of this was the instructor kept asking me if these same things I’ve encountered while working in the US. The more I answered the instructor’s questions, the more I realized I am already prepared to enter this new workforce (and received a cold shoulder from the rest of the immigrants in the room). The immigrants at the workshop voiced their complaints of their treatment while trying to do business with Canadians. I felt bad for them, but even Cutie and I had a hell of a time just trying to get settled here, regardless of English proficiency.
The only useful thing I got out of the workshop was a list of Canadian slang words based on the regions and provinces. Here’s a few examples:
Ginch: Northern British Colombian word for underwear.
Gotch: Southern Albertan word for underwear
A Social: A Manitoba social gathering for a large group of people usually held at a community centre
Toon Town: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
The ‘Couv: Vancouver, B.C.
Caisse populaire: Co-operative banks or credit unions found mostly in Quebec
Rink Rat: Someone who spends too much time at a skating rink.
The Rock: Newfoundland
ByTown: Ottawa, Ontario
Hog Town: Toronto
EdmonChuck or Deadmonton: Edmonton, Alberta
Cow-Town: Calgary, Alberta
Run a message: Means to run an errand
Homo milk: Slang for homogenized milk or 3% milk. I have gotten strange stares in supermarkets every time I heard these words and started laughing.
NEVER USE THE FOLLOWING IN ANY REGION:
Cannuk: Obvious reasons. I’ve encountered Canadians referring the US Citizens as “‘Muricans!” with horrible Southern accents. I don’t even bat an eye nor take offense when this happens, hence I don’t retaliate with this term no matter how angry I get.
Hoser: Word that describes the loosing hockey team who has to hose down the ice on the rink.
Newfie: Offensive to those from Newfoundland and Labrador
Frog, Pepsi, Pepper, Jean-Guy Pepper: Derogatory term for French Canadians by Western Canadians.
Square Head/ Tete carre: Derogatory term for Anglophone Canadians used in Quebec.
If I want to insult someone, the good-old fashioned insults will work just fine for me. Calling someone a bitch, bastard, jerk, etc is universally derogatory, regardless of whom the person is from. So far I haven’t had to use any of them because hell, even the cops here are polite. They aren’t even cops but “peace officers” because they don’t act like rejected yet suited up soldiers ready to spring into action. Just keep this in mind should you ever cross the border.