“We gave up everything and came to Canada,” Sri Lakan immigrant

Sanjeewa Rajapaksha at Victoria Park on Aug. 10 in Charlottetown. Tori Vail photo.

By Tori Vail

Oct. 5, 2016

Sanjeewa Rajapaksha had seen the Confederation Bridge before, but from the other side of the planet.

This time it was a lot closer.

“I seen photos of it back home in Sri Lanka years ago, but seeing it right there for the first time was amazing,” Sanjeewa said. “I was so happy.”

Sanjeewa and his wife Nadeera arrived in Halifax with their 14-month-old son in October, 2012 and drove to P.E.I.

“My aunt lives here. She has been living here for more than 25 years. She was the one who sponsored us.”

Sanjeewa and Nadeera got the go-ahead to move to Canada while in Sri Lanka.

Nadeera had just been hired as a teacher but said, don’t worry let’s go,’ Sanjeewa said.

“We gave up everything and came to Canada,” he said.

Before Sanjeewa and Nadeera moved, he looked up information on Canadian politics, its people and customs.

“Those are the facts that made us want to come,” he said.

When they arrived they realized how different everything was, he said.

“I had never left my country before, so it was amazing. I knew very little English. From the plane ride, the different food to the climate, everything changed,” he said.

Two weeks after they arrived, they went to PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada, Sanjeewa said.

“They helped me so much, my baby’s vaccinations, resumes, jobs and settling here.

“Etta helped me with student loans so I could go to school. She was amazing.” Etta Esler was an employment counselor at the association.

Sanjeewa went to school at Eastern College for a year for accounting and payroll administrator training and is now working full time at Atlantic Enterprise LTD, a construction firm, he said.

Nadeera is at home looking after everything, he said.

“She does so much for me.”