Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Christmas with new friends in Whistler

I came to Canada for a better way of life, where happiness is measured by how many days you go up the mountain in winter or how many days you spend in the bike park in summer, writes Ercus Long

Ercus Long (left) with James Hanlon in Canada

Sun, Dec 23, 2012, 16:24


I came to Canada for a better way of life, where happiness is measured by how many days you go up the mountain in winter or how many days you spend in the bike park in summer, writes Ercus Long

Ercus Long (left) with James Hanlon in Canada

When I left Ireland in September I couldn’t even really fathom what lay in store for me. I didn’t leave Ireland for work reasons – I had been lucky; straight out of college I got a job with

I left Ireland because I felt that if I lived there for the rest of my days and not have a cut at life in another country I would regret it. Why Canada? Why not…Strong economy, plenty of jobs, enough Irish people but not too many, snowboarding in the winter and beaches in the summer. So I resigned my post at in August and flew out to Vancouver in September.

I did the typical Irish jobs run. I sent out about 50 resumes online and waited for my plump fat chickens to come home to roost. These festively plump chickens never arrived. I was in shock. Had they got lost? Stolen? So I did what everyone does and sent out another 50 resumes online. Again nothing. I checked in with a few fellow Irish compatriots who asked if I had customised a cover letter for each job? I hadn’t.

They further elaborated that customised cover letters here are the norm. Plus they can’t just be a rehash of your resume. In your cover letter you need to explain why you want to work for that particular company and how you can apply your skills and experiences to the company. They also stressed the importance of networking.

The Irish expat network in Canada really seems to be taking off. I’ve spoken to Cathy Murphy from the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre and the work they do is unbelievable. They host information seminars and provide an online portal for Irish people looking for information and jobs. Another great and helpful group is the Irish Women’s Network of BC. They provide support and assistance to women coming over to British Colombia. Both these groups are gold mines for meeting more experienced expats with job opportunities.

Online networking is also huge. Linkedin has tons of jobs and if you know a company you want to work for and like, share and tweet about them as much as you can, it’s the best way to get on their radar. There’s also several useful Facebook groups specific to particular areas, like Canada IEC 2012, Irish & New in Toronto, Irish in Regina, and Irish in Calgary. Also there are some great websites out there about moving to Canada. Two popular ones are Working Holiday in Canada and Moving to Canada.

So after taking some advice I started to get a few calls and interviews. At the same time, a former colleague contacted me about a position with in Whistler. This gave me a good bit to think about as I was enjoying my life in Vancouver. I had adapted to the big city living and was loving the beaches even if it was starting to get a bit chilly.

I asked a few friends what they thought of the job as it was different to what I had been doing back in Dublin. I explained in the role I would be looking after the Whistler office and be working with partners such as ski resorts, travel organisations and employers throughout Canada to help their staff and clients claim tax refunds from both Canada and their home countries. One friend replied: “I’ve always said the dream is to live in Whistler with a real job”. With that, the penny dropped. My bags were packed and my apartment in Vancouver posted to Craigslist.

I moved to Whistler in October. I was a bit nervous at first as I had some friends in Vancouver, so would be starting all over again in Whistler. My nerves were settled very fast. The first night I stayed in a hostel, where at least 30 other people were in the exact same position as me. Everyone was new in town and looking to set up here for the season. In Vancouver, like most big cities, it takes a bit longer to scratch the surface and make new friends. In Whistler it is the exact opposite; everyone’s new and dying to meet new people. Every October 10,000 new arrivals descend upon this village.

My friend was right. Living and working in Whistler is the dream. Gone are the thoughts of recession and budgets. My mind is now occupied by how much powder has fallen today and when will I next see a bear. Whistler is best described as a bubble but not like the property ones we have become accustomed to bursting. Whistler is a bubble of chilled-out paradise. Everyone here works to live and loves it.

Moving to Whistler in that sense is a very different type of emigration. You are coming out here for a better life, though it’s not one that’s measured in monetary terms. It’s counted by how many days you go up the mountain in winter or how many days you spent in the bike park in summer. There are some, but not many, career jobs out here. I was very, very lucky to land this opportunity. For those interested in the hospitality sector there are unbelievable opportunities and graduate programmes with the big hotels like Fairmount Chateau, the Four Seasons and Pan Pacific.) For everyone else, there is always the promise of an unbelievable lifestyle.

This is my first Christmas away from home, which has been a little weird, though I can Skype my family and friends which makes it easier. Through working in the shop in the village I have made lots of friends so I’m in good company. It’s no surprise that a good few of my new friends are Irish. I’ve taught them to be tax savvy and so they’re all dropping by to get their tax refunds from home and Canada.

For Christmas we all plan to head up the mountain for the morning and then have dinner together. All the usual trimmings of turkey, ham, spuds and veg will be included. No doubt our thoughtful Mammies and Daddies have posted our pre-ordered stocking fillers of Dairy Milks and Barry’s tea! Fingers crossed!