Change… Not Without Canadian Barriers

By Irshad

Whenever talking about change, I use the visual of a flying trapeze.


Think of a performer on a trapeze. He swings back and forth. And then he encounters another trapeze bar. It is swinging towards him and it is empty. Now he has a decision to make. He may continue to hang onto his present bar, or let go and grasp the new one. He has to decide which one he wants.

If he chooses to let go of the past and grasp the future, he finds himself suspended for a moment in mid-air. He must hurtle across space before he can grab the new bar. Scary! At this moment in space, he is vulnerable and at risk. But that risk is necessary in order to move forward. Unless he lets go of the old one and risks that suspension in mid-air of nothing to hold on to, he can’t enjoy and experience the new places that the new bar will take him to.

Having made four big changes in my life in the past while living in other countries, I never feel threatened to be suspended in mid-air and successfully cross that space. But now when I want to do it again in the Canadian context, I’m perplexed at the things that are at stake and the complexities surrounding an “individual” decision.

Especially if you are planning to move to another country to study or work, it is no longer an individual decision to make that change. I’m not referring to the golden handcuffs like job, income, friends, networks etc. Those are anyways internal decisions. But external handcuffs, not “gold or silver” unfortunately, threaten to diminish the hope of change.

For an example, Canada Revenue Agency’s T4131 pamphlet categorizes the residency status of those who decide to live abroad as 1. Factual Resident, 2. Deemed resident, 3. Non-Resident, 4. Deemed Non-Resident. Each category has a definition, rules and consequences. To put it simply, it is a maze. More complexities. More decisions to make.

These categories are defined by our “residential ties” such as having a home or personal properties in Canada (includes furniture and car!!!), leaving your family in Canada (yes, you can’t take them with you!!), and having social ties in Canada (would being a blogger count?!!!).

Now, I visualize that flying trapeze again. I’m suspended in the mid-air….full of expectations for the future….excited about growth opportunities…..enthused and motivated!

But wait a minute…….I can’t progress….why can’t I thrust forward….what’s happening? Lots of ropes are pulling me back towards the old bar.

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