On the 4th of June, 2019 – exactly a year ago today, I arrived Canada with my family. This was the final step that began with a decision; a decision that took way too long to make but one that I am glad I finally made. A day before, I was sitting for my longest trip ever, gazing from the sky at the fading view of a country I loved. My escape from the abusive relationship I had with Nigeria is the best decision I ever made.

As a man who had built a fairly comfortable life back home, I could easily make up a thousand reasons why giving it all up for the uncertainty of the unknown, the luster of a new land was irrational. I did this with conversations in my head and in conversations with my wife.

The funny thing was that I could also just as easy, make up a million more reasons why giving it all up was the way to go. Observing the perilous political landscape in Nigeria after an undeserved second term victory for the Buhari administration, the future was bleak. The blatant disregard and overt disdain for the plight of the citizens stretched me to my elastic limits. I did not want to be an inconsequential pawn my whole life in this unfolding nightmare. I needed to have a say somehow.

For a long time, I was stuck in this rut of indecision. I started the immigration process half-heartedly because my wife – God bless her – made it a full time job to convince me that relocation was the right thing for us and for the future of our daughter and invest her money in it. I knew she spoke the truth but that old fear of the unknown dictated my actions for a time…until the hopelessness of my situation revealed itself in the form of an unfortunate occurrence – a mere flood. And from then on, it was full throttle, never looking back.

I came to this country without any illusions that the journey to self-sufficiency was going to be walk in the park. I weaned myself of all pretences of affluence I may have developed back in Nigeria due to my feeble economic status and tasked myself to start over.

The journey would have been much harder without the support of family. I know this for a fact because I had a lot of friends who came here without the support I had and their stories inspired me to no end but the mother of all supports came from the government. For the first time in my life, I encountered governance face to face.

For an immigrant like me, it was a new experience for the government to pay my tuition and offer me a monthly stipend while I attended formal education to unlearn and relearn what would make me relevant in the Canadian workplace. An investment that would yield bountifully in taxes paid, strong networks and priceless friendships.

The result of this headstart gave me an advantage that I could only dream of and in less than a year – 6 months actually, I had acquired all and more than I had sold off in a hurry. Stuff that took me years of blood and sweat to acquire. And it all came along with access to basic infrastructure, healthcare, credit…and sanity.

One thing though, has remained constant. The rat-race is the rat-race; the game is the game. No matter how well oiled the system is, it requires foot soldiers to run it. The difference here is foot soldiers are well cared for by the system that they service.

No system is perfect. I have seen a few of its cracks and will no doubt see more in the coming years but it is indeed a system that tries and continues to aim for perfection. That makes all the difference.

As the journey of rediscovery continues in this new land, with the tons of things I am yet to figure out and even as I evolve to fit in, I am continuously grateful for the opportunity to experience a good, new thing with my family. Even in the midst of the panic caused by the viral invasion in today’s world, the existential threat of racism, I awake to beauty every day – more aware of who I am and inspired to be the best version of myself – unchained from the negative transformation necessitated by an unfriendly, uninspiring and unsupportive environment.