Canada 150: From nurse to accomplished executive, one immigrant's success story
Published Wednesday, June 28, 2017 10:00PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 28, 2017 11:50PM EDT
As Queenie Choo strolled through Vancouver’s Chinatown on a recent afternoon, memories of her first days in Canada were never far from her mind.
"I was made to feel very welcome, and that was something I will never forget, even up to now," she told CTV News.
Choo’s journey to Canada began in the early 1980s, when she answered a “nurses wanted” ad from Alberta. Originally from Hong Kong, she had been living in the U.K. and wanted a challenge.
When Choo landed in Edmonton in the middle of December in -30C weather, she got much more than she expected.
“An exciting country, a country with lots of opportunities,” she said, adding with a laugh: “at the same time, it was very cold.”
Choo approached the freezing temperatures as an adventure as she started a new life. She worked in nursing and continuing care and held management positions at Alberta Health Services before moving to British Columbia.
For the past five years, Choo has led one of Canada’s largest immigration and social service agencies, S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
She said her early years in Canada have given her the skills to counsel new arrivals on adapting to a new country.
"I went ice fishing for the first time, I went ice skating to have a feel for the winter sports that most Canadians do,” she said.
Although she’s no longer a nurse, Choo still looks after people – immigrants who arrive to Vancouver from all around the world. The newcomers are filled with the same hopes, fears and questions she had decades ago.
"I certainly wanted to return my contributions to our country," Choo said, praising Canada’s approach to inclusion and diversity.
To her, that kind of acceptance is worth celebrating this Canada Day.
This is the third Canada 150 immigrant story in a series of reports from CTV Atlantic Bureau Chief Todd Battis.