The Importance of Friendship to a Newcomer
Mustapha arrived in Ottawa in October 2016 with his 11 year-old son and spouse. Although he is fluent in English and well educated, he still has found the transition to a new home challenging at times.
“Immigration is a difficult process,” said Mustapha. “It’s not just packing your belongings and travelling to a new country. It’s about establishing a new life and environment and meeting new friends. It’s basically building a brand new life from scratch.”
Little did Mustapha know that opening a bank account two weeks after his arrival in suburban Ottawa would set him on a path towards adjusting to a new community and culture. When Claudine Revert-Gravel, Senior Financial Representative at the CIBC branch in Orleans overheard Mustapha saying he was a newcomer, she immediately offered to help.
Although she had assisted many immigrants with the paper work involved in opening up a bank account, she felt a kinship towards Mustapha as he shares the same profession as her husband. “I have travelled to Turkey three times and felt the incredible warmth and hospitality of the Turkish people,” explained Claudine. “I felt compelled to show Mustapha and his family the same welcome and positive experience I had in Turkey. People shouldn’t rely on stereotypes or what they see on television, because it’s truly fascinating to learn about different cultures.”
Claudine invited Mustapha and his family to her home for dinner. “We immediately felt part of a warm, welcoming Ottawa family,” added Mustapha. “Claudine is very kind and constantly asks if there is anything she can do for our family. She has a very warm, welcoming heart and soul. As we transition towards making Ottawa our home, her close friendship has really helped us to adjust to Canadian life. In many ways she feels like a sister to me.”
The friendship between the two families has continued to grow over the months with many dinners and introductions to other Ottawa friends. The introductions are opening doors that may help with Mustapha find employment. Claudine’s family has also met two other Turkish families through Mustapha.
Clearly both of these families are strengthened and enriched by their new friendship.