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Employee Q&A: Carrie-Ann Harshberger

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This month, we sat down with Receptionist and Administrator, Carrie-Ann Harshberger from Source Saskatoon to learn more about her role. Originally from Scotland, Carrie-Ann wanted to highlight her immigration journey to Canada. Additionally, Source Saskatoon proudly supplies office furniture to multiple immigration businesses. Some examples include Saskatoon Open Door, Global Gathering Place Saskatoon, and International Women of Saskatoon. Continue reading to view the full interview. Q: How long have you worked for Source? A: I’ve worked for Source for just over four years. Q: Describe your role and what you do for the company. A: I am the receptionist and office administrator here. I do a little bit of everything. I answer phone calls, and handle ordering and receiving. I also manage the clearance section. Q: What do you like most about your job? A: I like talking, so I like answering phones and talking to people. Also, the people I work with here are really nice. I get along really well with our store manager Shelley Herron. We’re the only two woman that work here, but it’s a great team. Everyone is nice, and we like to laugh. It’s not a stressful job. We have each other’s back and help each other out. In my previous job, I did absolutely everything and it was very stressful. You couldn’t shut off and forget about work once you went home. Q: Where did you immigrate from? How long have you lived in Canada? A: We originally came from Scotland. I was born in Edinburgh and grew up in Scotland. We came directly to Saskatoon when we immigrated, which was 12 years ago! The time has flown by. I’ve always worked so I’ve kept busy. I started working 8 months after we got here. My kids grew up here too, so I’ve always had that. Q: How did you decide to immigrate to Canada? A: We decided that we wanted a better future for our kids, and we wanted them to have better opportunities than we had. My ex-husband started looking for jobs in Canada, and I found a blog online that said a company in Saskatoon was looking for heavy-duty mechanics, which was his profession. We got in touch with them just to find out more and weren’t thinking that anything would happen. To our surprise, he ended up getting offered the job in Saskatoon and so we took it! We had actually never been to Saskatchewan before moving here. We had only been to the Rocky Mountains, which we loved. We thought all of Canada was like that, so we said ‘let’s move there!’ When we got to Saskatchewan it was a lot different than we expected. The drive from Calgary to Saskatoon was very flat. The kids were 10 and 13 at the time and they were thinking “Where are we going? What is going on?” We said initially we would give it two years because we had a two-year work permit. We thought that if we didn’t like it we would go back home. However, we’ve never looked back. Q: What was most challenging when you first arrived in Canada? Was it a big adjustment from living in Scotland? A: The weather was a very big adjustment. It was August when we moved here, so it was very warm and that was something I had never experienced. Surprisingly, there was also a language difference and I had to change how I said certain things. People didn’t understand me very well at first. There are different words in Scotland, and I speak very fast naturally so I had to slow down a lot. Also, being away from friends and family and having to start all over again was hard. It was tough for the kids too. They hated us for a few months, until they got into school and made friends. Then everything was forgotten. In Scotland, people would pop into your house for a coffee and we would watch TV while the kids were at school, but that doesn’t happen here. Q: What advice would you give to someone who has just immigrated to Canada? A: I would tell them to do their research on where they’re going. Go online and look up every little detail about the place, like the culture, and the weather. We didn’t look into the weather before we moved here. We were just excited that we would get a proper Christmas with snow but then we thought, “When does this cold weather go away? Why does it last so long?” I would also recommend trying to find people who are going through the same thing as you; maybe look on a blog or a forum online. There are also places like Open Door and International Women and other resources available. It really helps to know people who are in the same situation. You can relate so much more to someone who’s also moved away from family and friends. It makes you feel more at home. Q: What is your favourite thing about Canada? A: I would say the friendliness. I know that’s such a cliché, but Canadians are very friendly. It’s also much more laid back here than it was in Scotland. Everyone was always in a rush in the UK. You’re always running around. Getting used to the laid-back lifestyle was an adjustment, even in the check-out line at the grocery store. It’s very slow. However, I really enjoy the more relaxed environment in Canada. Q: What are the biggest differences between Scotland and Canada? A: The weather is very different. Also, the language as well. Although both countries speak English, there is a language barrier that takes some time getting used to. The Scottish accent is challenging as well. My ex-husband couldn’t order food in a restaurant because his accent is so strong. I would have to order food all the time for us. My kids have a mixture of accents from growing up in Canada. Q: Have you been back to visit Scotland since you immigrated to Canada? A: I went back to Scotland after being in Canada for three years. I haven’t been back since. It was really weird going back as nothing had changed. I was desperate to return to Canada. I saw everyone that I wanted to see, and I was done. I was staying with my parents for the two weeks who I hadn’t lived with in 15 years. I haven’t been back since then. My kids went back to visit and told me that they were glad I moved them to Canada which was really nice to hear. Q: Do you think Canada has a lot of opportunities for immigrants to succeed or do they face barriers? A: I think they do have a lot of opportunities here, in contrast to the UK. One of the main reasons we moved here was to give our kids better opportunities. My daughter is now living in Australia and is able to work there for a couple of years. My son is in BC playing rugby and working there. There are so many more opportunities here, especially for kids. We’ve never felt like immigrants here which is really nice. We’ve felt really welcomed which has been a great thing.

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