Talking to God Boots

Azenith Magno-Desiderio


Azenith’s winter boots and ice grippers are a winning combination. As she walks, prays, and waits, she discovers that the city that initially underwhelmed her is exactly the place where she is meant to be.


I was twenty-eight years old, full of hope and ready to advance into a better career when I came to Canada. Before I left the Philippines, I was about to be promoted to a management-level position. My cousins who lived in Canada would say, “Azenith, you need to hurry up and join us. It’s so easy to find a job here.” So, I packed my bags and moved to Canada in August 2009.


If I could, I would write a letter to myself back then. This is what I would tell her.


“Dear Azenith,


Before you make up your mind about leaving your professional job, your waiting promotion, and your family so that you can immigrate to Canada, here is what you should know:


You will not be impressed when you see Winnipeg for the first time. Still, you will be determined to settle down and get a job immediately. But the next three months will be the most challenging you will ever experience.


In September, you will get a small win when you discover a place called the Alicia Rea Career Centre. You will start a three-month job preparation program with them. 


Your favourite part will be the visualization exercises you do to start the mornings. Those practices will help you set your goals and figure out where you want to be in the future. 


You will also get a small allowance and a bus pass, so you can travel around Winnipeg and search for a job.


The people at the centre will teach you that Canadian winters are cold and harsh. They will show you how to dress appropriately and what to look for in selecting proper winter shoes. 


You will buy these simple black boots because they are the sturdiest and safest pair you can afford. When you wear the boots, you will discover that although they are comfortable, they do not prevent you from falling on icy surfaces. So, you will need to get a pair of ice grippers to help you walk without sliding or falling down. 


You will do a lot of walking in these clunky winter boots. You will walk from Portage Place to Polo Park, handing out copies of your resume and asking about employment. 


Please pay close attention now, Azenith, because I have important news for you. In October, you are going to discover that you’re pregnant. 


You are going to feel scared. With your partner still in the Philippines, you will feel lonely and sad because this is not the way you want to start your family. 


These boots will become your ally. You will walk in them every day. You are going to walk and have conversations with God. 


You will ask questions like: Why am I having such a hard time finding a job? How am I going to get through these struggles? Am I overqualified or underqualified? 


You will even make promises to dedicate your life to helping other newcomers, especially women who are pregnant, scared, and alone here. 


At the end of November, your prayers will be answered. You will find a good job and work extra hard to gain the minimum of 600 employment insurance hours to qualify for maternity leave. 


In May 2010, after thirty hours of labour, you will give birth to a healthy baby boy. Eleven months after that, your husband will join you and your son. 


You will deepen your understanding of Canada and its work culture. You will also learn about all the places newcomer women can go for support. You will use this knowledge to help other women and new immigrants when you start your career as a financial advisor. 


So, as you decide whether or not to move to Canada, I want you to know that you are in God’s hands. Take the chance, Azenith. You will be surprised how great this city can be. You are going to discover that there are many people here that can help you. 


You will find that good winter boots and ice grippers make a difference and that you don’t mind being outside in winter, walking and talking to God.”

Azenith strives to help mothers build financial literacy to succeed in their projects. She considers her biggest achievement to be the co-founding of Smartwealth Financial Inc., an independent insurance and wealth advisory firm. She is passionate about sharing her lived experiences and her stories of hope with other newcomer women.

More Stories from Winnipeg 2023