Welcome to our “Life as a Canadian Immigrant Series” We will be featuring immigrants in Canada as they share their story and life in Canada with us. This is our first feature and we happened to speak with Janey Buzugbe. Janey is a Tech Advocate, Speaker, Startup & growth Innovator, and Professional Newcomer Educator. In this interview, she shares her journey so far, adapting to Canada when she first arrived and so much more.
Hello, Please tell us about yourself
I am Janey Buzugbe- a Tech Advocate, Speaker, Startup & growth Innovator, and Professional Newcomer Educator. I have attained degrees in Information Technology, Marketing, and a Masters in Management of Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Queen’s University, Canada. On the weekdays, I am a Tech leader at a Startup, Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) and on weekends, you will find me creating content on Youtube to help newcomers navigate their way as they study, work, and live in Canada. Every day, you will find me dancing and shining my light unapologetically!
How would you describe the experience of living in Canada, is it a stark difference from back home?
For the most part, I loved growing up in Nigeria. Being raised by more people than my parents, thriving through the hustle and looking fly at it, and then growing up and realizing so many needs to be improved in our systems. Moving to Canada, there is definitely a stark difference. For one, I never had to change out my closet at a set time every year back home – the cold is real! The systems and institutions for the most part work here and If you are curious, there is so much to learn. From the diversity of the people to the expanse of land with six different time zones. I really do believe I live in a place where you can dream and then go get it
Since moving to Canada, what would you describe as a highlight?
Today, in this moment, thinking about the awesome day I’ve had and responding to these questions is my highlight. I am grateful for the moment I have now because I don’t enjoy living in the past – it leads to depression, and living in the future, anxiety. However, I have had a lot of memorable events. Every one of the three graduations I’ve had in Canada surrounded by my family and new friends; getting my first real job that was not an internship-haha; a few family trips made possible or easier since I now live in Canada; getting my permanent residency and getting married to my best friend. So, my highlight truly is the colorful life I am blessed to have today.
In your field of work, were there certain practices you had to pick up or drop because of the difference in doing things here?
Honestly, one workplace norm from Nigeria that was so easy for me to drop was the use of ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’ to refer to people in authority in the workplace – I never quite understood that; I love the direct access you can have to senior leaders here. With regards to my field of work specifically, Tech Sales, I don’t have much to compare it to because, in Nigeria, I was a Networking Analyst at a Government Agency before I left, so I have transitioned and shifted paths a few times over the years. One thing that is synonymous though across both fields is that there are more men than women in these roles and so there is still a lot of bias in the industry and navigating that is a skill I am still learning thanks to the help of mentors and sponsors
Adapting to the food culture, did you have a period of time where you constantly looked for food from your home country?
Actually, I came ready. lol. I brought with me a lot of food items from home. That said, I am not so much of a foodie. So my definition of ‘a lot of food’ was mostly powdered milk and a suitcase of plantain chips, haha. Realistically, having visited Canada a few times prior and moving to live with my brother, I already had a sense of where to get food items I might need, and over time, I have now adjusted my lifestyle and food choices to explore more cultures and food types. One thing that is going to remain a staple for me for a long time is plantains and it’s a blessing that I live in Toronto for this reason.
You’ve been a source of inspiration and a great resource online especially YouTube for those looking to move to Canada. What inspires you to do this?
I have always had a YouTube channel in my head; and it looked like soliloquy or a talk show in front of the mirror every morning while I brushed my teeth. So when I moved and decided I was going to take learning to edit videos and having a channel seriously, I told myself it had to mean something to someone else other than just me – it needs to help someone. So my pain point landed on my laps after few months of being an international student, hearing about some benefits I either had just missed out on or some penalty I received from lack of knowledge and saying to myself “why did nobody tell me about this?”. So my inspiration today mostly comes from within to push myself to be a better version of Janey than I was yesterday because I truly believe that this is how I can live out God’s purpose for me but my motivation comes from the hundreds of ‘thank you’ I get that reminds in the low times that this is not about me.
You work with one of the biggest black professionals in Canada. How has the experience and network gained shaped your perspective as an immigrant? So much perspective. It has really opened my eyes to the fact that the playing field is really leveled if we can only start to see it for ourselves. Yes, there’s racism and misogyny and any other -ism we can think of that stands in the way of our definition of success but the greatest roadblock is the lie we allow people to tell us about who we are and what we can do or achieve in this life. You see, I have seen and heard a lot of immigrants when they move to Canada operating from a limited place instead of an abundance mindset. Using words like “I am starting over”; “I don’t have Canadian experience”. Focusing on what people have said you don’t have as opposed to playing to your strengths. I have been there as well after so many no’s. However, folks who show up and show out like they are the best thing since sliced bread are redefining the definition of success as a newcomer. They prefer to say “I am expanding my potential” and “I have a global perspective”. I have seen people who do not have half the qualifications I may have assumed they needed for a certain position thriving at it and this has taught me that it really is a game of the mind and what truth you tell yourself
Would you advise anyone in your field of work to move to Canada, and particularly your city?
Yes! Absolutely! I love Toronto and the melting pot that it is. It is a place with so much opportunity; especially in Tech. Toronto is the fastest-growing tech market in North America with more jobs than New York, Seattle and Boston combined. What’s not to love? There is also no shortage of activity if you love the outdoors. There are a bunch of provincial parks, trails, and beaches in and around the city. I could write a poem in this city but Drake beat me to it.
What advice do you have for those looking to move to Canada?
Just do it! Nope, I don’t work for Nike but a lot of people are right now, at this moment overthinking this decision saying “when this happens, I will move” “When I get this ____, I’ll apply”. The time is now. I am learning that it is egotistical of us to think that we have tomorrow. That said, I will say do your research. Contrary to what some Nigerian aunties and uncles will tell you when you want to go abroad, don’t keep it hush hush and miss out on an opportunity. Ask people for help and guidance if you need it. I’m here to be your newcomer’s best friend; you can start by watching videos on my YouTube Channel – Janey Buz. Talk to more than one person and make sure the people you are taking advice from are living a life you admire in some way. This feeds into your abundance mindset and not the other. Choose the place (city or province) you want to settle in because of the plans you have for your future self not just your here and now. And when you get here, have an open mind. Seek out people who don’t look like you or what you are comfortable with and do things you have never done before because the world is our canvas!