“I work in crisis communications in the financial sector, and I’m also a translator through my own translation business where I translate mostly from Spanish into English and French, and most of what I do is with immigration applications.
I started a Facebook group called ‘Public Health, Jobs and Resources for Latinos in Ottawa,’ (translated) and it’s a space where Spanish-speaking citizens in Ottawa are able to come together and help each other out. A lot of [people] come here, they don’t have any connections and they really don’t know about everything [that] Ottawa has to offer. Through the pandemic, I translated important communications and updates for them, whether it be information on lockdowns or pop-up community clinics for the vaccines. Since the pandemic started, I’ve helped book over 200 vaccine appointments. Times have been so hard and we’ve seen how much we need to help people. I get so much satisfaction helping people — and not just with what I do on Facebook, but promoting a local business or helping someone with directions on the street.
There is a really big [immigrant] population in Ottawa, and a lot of times there are a lot of great programs and resources, but I find it’s really difficult for people who are new and don’t speak English and French to have access to these services. For example, the YMCA offers so many great services, but someone who just moved here wouldn’t even know what the Y is, not to mention what types of services they have to offer.
My parents came to Canada from Eastern Europe because they saw no future there in the late 90s and settled in Edmonton where my dad served as an air traffic controller. In 2011, he then got a promotion, and that’s when we had the opportunity to move to Ottawa. We moved in about three weeks. And it was really hard for me because I was supposed to start high school and start that part of my life, but then [I] moved across the country to a place where I knew nobody and it was really scary. It ended up probably being one of the best things that ever happened to me because I really love this city. Ottawa offered so much more than Edmonton could have. I think of all the great connections and friendships I’ve made here over the last 10 years.
What I like about Kitchissippi is it has contrast: it’s very quiet but it’s also very vibrant. I love the recent [boom] of local businesses, local restaurants and salons, which brings in amazing people and new ideas. I also like that it’s a very family-oriented ward with lots of little parks and trails. In my neighborhood, near the Civic Hospital, you see little libraries and beautiful gardens as you walk around. It’s like a cute little neighborhood like you would see in the movies.
During the pandemic, my life hasn’t really changed that much because I’m still working and, of course, updating and helping people through the Facebook group. But I did get Netflix for the first time in March of 2020, but I’ve been so busy, I haven’t been able to watch as many shows as I’d like. I also love travel magazines and planning for future adventures. Unlike a novel, you can pick it up, read a bit, and then pick it right back up a month later.”
Story collected by Charlie Senack.