I am in a constant state of agitation. I am fatigued. I started the year enthused about its possibilities but reality has a way of undermining expectations at every turn. I am not without hope or agency or drive, but helplessness is a feeling that finds its way inside those moments, muting my perception of the outcomes. But, I continue to push forward, to try to make change where I can, all the while recognizing my limitations. I try to remind myself that limitations aren’t automatic failures, but tests that require you prove your mettle. I am just asking that the universe test me a little less for the next few weeks.
One of my most frustrating experiences has been working with immigrants who are trying to remain in Canada. Most of these people are graduates from Canadian colleges and universities, who want to take advantage of the express entry system so that they can obtain permanent residency. I had initially thought that it would be a simple matter of helping applicants complete their paperwork, but I soon realized reducing individuals to a score resulted in solid candidates not receiving an invitation to apply. One of these applicants, has been living and working in Canada for over decade and got her associates degree from Camosun. In helping her with her express entry application, we soon realized she was a mere 40 points short to qualify for the invitation to apply. The number of years she’d lived and worked in Canada was only marginally valuable. The fact that she is bilingual (English and Spanish) didn’t count because only French and English are assigned scores. The fact that she is over 30 and unmarried worked against her. She described her experience as that of a frog in lukewarm water, where the heat was slowly being increased. The frog, unaware of the change in temperature because of its gradual increase, eventually boils to death. She said she felt like the frog. Slowly and calmly being lulled by her life here without feeling the urgency of its upcoming end.
As I consider the “human capital factors” that the Canadian government considers valuable I worry about the process of reducing people to numbers. I recognize the value of an objective system but subjectivity has to have a place here as well. It makes me sad to see the frustration, fatigue and helplessness so many people experience because a number is not high enough. I feel helpless as well. But more than that I feel useless because I can’t do much of anything. I have called all the offices I can and sent all the letters I can but I am stuck (if anyone has any suggestions please reach out).
It feels as though all of us immigrants are mere numbers and it seems like there is no way around that right now. So I continue to show up and I continue to try to find better ways to apologize but the fatigue keeps building and I am not sure how to rid myself of it.