Here at TradeRev, we wanted to commemorate Canada 150 in a unique way. We thought it would be fun to celebrate the diversity of our company; similar to the way Canada’s diversity makes it so great.
We have created a blog series highlighting people from our team who have immigrated to Canada. Here they share their journeys, their favourite Canadian tradition and more.
Name: Nataliya Portman
Birth Country: Ukraine
Job Title: Data Scientist
Time at TradeRev: 7 months
Why did you come to Canada?
I came to Canada during rough times of economic crisis in my home country of Ukraine. The reason was simple: to live a life with dignity, to raise a healthy family and to give my children a great future.
How did you come to Canada?
I came to Canada in 2000, all prepared, with my Landed Immigrant documents. Initially, I intended to come to Canada as a visitor, however, the Canadian Embassy in Ukraine would not issue a visitor’s Visa to a young unmarried woman even though all the requirements in the application were satisfied. So, I had to go through a long process of applying for Landed Immigrant status while living in Ukraine.
Who made the decision to immigrate?
I made the decision to immigrate and start a new life in Canada.
What was your first Canadian neighbourhood like?
My first Canadian neighbourhood was a true cultural shock. I lived near the heart of downtown Toronto (Dundas and Church), where gay pride parades would happen and gay couples would suddenly appear in an elevator with perfectly done manicures and hairstyles. In my home country, gay communities also exist but they are not nearly as open. It was wonderful to see so much acceptance all around me!
What was your first memory of Canada or becoming a Canadian?
I recall taking an English as a Second Language (ESL) course offered free-of-charge to newcomers. I figured my British English that I learned in Ukraine was not quite the same as Canadian English. The course was more than just learning about the quirks of Canadian language, but also Canadian history and its political system. I recall my colourful ESL teacher (originally from Saskatchewan) who taught us English with such passion and humour and who organized group outings to visit Toronto landmarks. Everyone felt welcome and connected with others!
What do you miss the most from home?
The Russian sense of humour.
Do you have any advice for newcomers to Canada?
I would recommend getting a Canadian education from a college or university. Perhaps, one or two year long Master’s program that can be taken part-time (while working). Get your foot into the Canadian institution and start building a network of professionals in your field of expertise. This is also a way to earn recommendations from professors that you will need to find a job suitable to your career interests.
What’s your favourite Canadian food or tradition? Do you remember the first time you tried it?
My favourite Canadian tradition is attending the Winter Festival in Ottawa with beautiful ice sculptures, skating on the canal, warming up by the fire pit with hot chocolate and treating myself to a Beaver Tail with cinnamon-flavoured caramel sauce! I do remember the first time I tried Beaver Tail pastry. I discovered it during my first trip to Ottawa in the cold and snowy month of February, 2001. And I still follow the tradition of Winter celebration in Ottawa!
How did you hear about TradeRev?
My husband referred me to a LinkedIn job post
Why did you choose to work at TradeRev?
I found TradeRev to be a perfect cultural fit. They take pride in a supportive and collaborative environment, open sharing of opinions, plus honesty is one of the important company values. It was a great opportunity to apply my skills and expertise in Computer Vision and machine learning. I truly enjoy the challenges and the excitement of innovative product development that I have been a part of.
How are you celebrating Canada 150?
I am celebrating at Blue Mountain with my family, fireworks and champagne!