Country of Origin:
Immigration, Multiculturalism & Diversity, Adjusting to Life in Canada
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Originally from Spain, Marta moved to Toronto in 2012 and became an international student of the Culture and Heritage Site Management program at Centennial College a year later. Her background is in Culture and Tourism. Previously, she was the owner of her own tour guiding company in Spain, where she also worked as a Visitor Information Counsellor for five years.
Since moving to Toronto, she has worked with a range of arts and culture organizations who serve communities of different ethnic backgrounds. She has also worked with Heritage Toronto, leading the “Immigration Stories: Making a Home in Old Toronto” tours for the organization. Currently, she is the administrator at Sur Gallery and has recently incorporated a non-profit to support and promote newcomer artists in Toronto, Paralia Newcomer Arts Network.
In addition to Centennial College’s Graduate Certificate, Marta holds Degrees in Tourism and Humanities, a Graduate Certificate in Tour Guiding and Heritage Interpretation, and a Masters in Social Media Marketing from the University of Alicante (Spain)
My husband and I arrived in Toronto in September 2012, on a beautiful summery day. We were coming with a work visa, and our intention was to stay for one year. We were looking at this experience as the perfect opportunity to get to know the country. As many other immigrants, the first thing we experienced was a culture shock: Toronto was (and is) very diverse, with all these people with different backgrounds, something we had never experienced back in our country. Something as simple as jumping on the subway was a reality check of the diverse environment we were going to be part of for one year.
The challenges we encountered upon arriving in Canada were: looking for housing and looking for a job. Looking for an apartment happened to be more complicated than we expected, since we were only planning to stay for one year. Our only option was to rent an apartment from a landlord on a month-to-month basis. We finally found a basement in the house of a Portuguese family, who ended up helping and supporting us throughout the year and a half we lived there. In terms of job opportunities, we were searching for some more skilled opportunities with no luck. After two months of attending workshops and sending resumes with no luck, we understood what “Canadian Experience” really meant and realized it was going to take us a bit longer to get to what we wanted to achieve. Luckily, and within 5 months, my husband found a job in his sector and we decided to stay. We had already fell in love with Toronto anyway! His job offered us the opportunity to cover the expenses and allowed me to attend Centennial College, getting some formal education in the field I wanted to work on: Arts, Culture and Heritage. I managed to get a job at Centennial and the second part of our adventure began.
I am now the administrator of Sur Gallery, the first publicly funded contemporary art gallery in Toronto showcasing and promoting Latin American artists. Also, I have cofounded a non-profit that promotes and supports newcomer artists. When I look back, I realize that in these 4 years I have had the opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds and ethnicities, something that would have been almost impossible in my own country. Canada has opened my mind and has taught me that we can all have our culture or heritage, but that does not prevent us from sharing it with others or creating one together.