Beyond the main concerns about finding a job and getting started in Canada, one of the major fears for newcomers to the country is one about assimilation. This is especially true for immigrants coming from non-Western cultures who wonder what everyday life is like in Canada, and if they will be able to fit in.
This excellent introduction to the Canadian way of life is excerpted from the government publication A Newcomer's Introduction to Canada, (also available as a PDF download from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website).
Family life and family law
Many people in Canada find that it takes two incomes to raise a family, even though parents are having fewer children. Most mothers have a job outside the home, and in many families, both parents share the work of shopping, cooking, cleaning the house and looking after the children. Because divorce has become more common, there are many one-parent families in Canada. Most single parents who raise their children on a full-time basis are women. There are also same-sex couples with children.
Marriage, divorce and the law
Canadian law views marriage as a legal agreement or contract between a man and a woman. Married people are considered equal partners. Marriage laws apply to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Many unmarried couples live together. In most provinces, unmarried heterosexual couples who have lived together for a certain period of time have legal status as "common-law" couples. They may call each other "husband" and "wife," or they may simply say "my partner."
Either the wife or the husband can ask for a divorce. This request will normally be approved by the courts if both people have agreed to end the marriage. Divorce will also be approved if one partner has been harmed through cruelty, adultery or a similar injustice.
Birth control and family planning
Many people use birth control. It is a matter of personal choice. Women can get a prescription for birth control pills from a doctor. Family planning information is available from government departments of health and public health offices, as well as from local health clinics. Abortion is legal but is only available from a doctor.
Youth and their parents
When children arrive in Canada, they usually learn about Canadian life quickly through schools, television, movies and music. If they need to learn English or French, they often learn it quite quickly.
Parents find out about Canadian life differently, as they search for housing and work. They too may need to learn English or French, but often need more time than their children to do so.
If you have children, you will know that you see the world somewhat differently than they do, because you are older and have more life experience. After immigrating to Canada, however, you may find that these differences increase, because you are having different experiences of Canadian life. These differences affect the behaviour of all family members and can lead to tension in the family between parents and their children.
Discussing concerns with teachers, doctors, public health workers, social workers, settlement workers, and friends and relatives who have already settled in Canada will help you and your children understand your experiences and make good choices about your future.
Youth and the law
Youth in Canada who commit a crime are held accountable for their actions. However they are not dealt with in the same way as adult offenders. This is because they may not have an adult's understanding of their crime. They are also more likely than adult offenders to be reformed and become law-abiding citizens. The law for young offenders is called the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
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