The Click that Changed My Life
Roxana Goerlitz has always loved purple and fuchsia, the colours of a wool hat she bought in Patagonia. When she leaves Chile, troubled by the injustices she sees, she brings her hat with her. She even wears it on a date with the new love who has helped her make Calgary her home.
I was born in southern Chile. My hometown is a port city called Lebu. There are stands full of clothing made of sheep’s wool at the farmers’ markets in southern Chile. I bought my purple and fuchsia sheep’s wool toque in a market in Patagonia. I loved those colours.
Chile is a beautiful and diverse country. However, there are many things that disappoint me about the society: inequality, injustice and the high cost of living. Also, I had a dysfunctional childhood during which I was physically and psychologically abused by my mother and bullied at school. Even as a child, I sometimes did not feel fully settled there. I thought of moving away many years ago. I had just finished my studies, and I did not have money to leave, so I focused on finding a job. I got one as an operations auditor.
In November of 2013, I suggested living abroad to my boyfriend. We tried to apply to New Zealand, but their system collapsed because of too many applicants. My boyfriend suggested the USA. When I started to research it, I accidentally clicked on “Immigration Canada.” Out of curiosity, I created an account. Then I forgot about it.
A while later, my boyfriend and I broke up. He didn’t really want to go anywhere. I was determined to travel. I planned to reapply to New Zealand because my younger brother was there. But then I received an email from Immigration Canada stating they required my documents. I sent them even though I did not think I would be accepted. After a few months, surprise! I was accepted for a one-year working visa in Canada. I chose Calgary because I like nature, outdoor activities and the mountains.
By the end of March 2015, I was here, alone in a country I never expected to be in. I brought my toque with me. I wore it when I went to my work in a restaurant, when I taught Spanish and when I volunteered. My Patagonia toque was not lined, so it was better for spring and fall than for the Canadian winter.
I fell in love with Canada immediately. The Calgary people were tolerant and respectful. I liked starting a new life far from the Chilean culture and my past. When the time came in 2016 for me to leave because my visa was expiring, I was extremely distressed. I did not want to go. I left full of sorrow.
I went to Ireland to improve my English, take the proficiency in English test and apply to some Canadian immigration programs. When I visited the Irish Cliffs of Moher, I looked out across the Atlantic Ocean and wondered if I would ever be able to live in Canada again.
I returned to Calgary in 2018 to visit friends and then planned to go east or to the territories to find a job. Due to the economy, I knew that finding an employer who would sponsor me in Alberta would be difficult. I was happy to retrieve all my cool-weather clothing, including my toque, from a friend’s house here.
And then I met a wonderful man. I wasn’t expecting anything. I never thought that having a Canadian boyfriend would work because of cultural differences. I thought nobody would like me because of my temporary situation here. I was wrong. On one of our dates, I wore my toque, and we went for a walk in Fish Creek Park. We got married last June.
I am blessed. Canada is a wonderful country, and I am here in the company of a fantastic man who is everything for me: my partner, my friend and my family.
ROXANA GOERLITZ was born in Chile and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She came to Calgary in 2015 and then again in 2018 and currently volunteers at the New Canadian Friendship Center.