Rhianna Mc Kenzie
Three years ago, the promise of a new life in a foreign land prompted Kelise Williams and her family to move to Canada.
The two-year application process would eventually bring her, her husband and their two children – ages one and three – to Alberta.
With no family or friends in the country, Williams, born and raised in Morvant, and her young family left the familiar behind and landed in the Canadian province in May 2019. They made their way to a nearby hotel where they had done. a reservation for their first night.
“We had to take public transport from the airport to the hotel,” she told WMN.
Recalling that night, Williams, 33, said the hotel didn’t want to accommodate them despite having a reservation because they didn’t have a credit card and they weren’t able to pay cash.
At 3 a.m., she said, she started to cry and her first night in her new home started hard.
However, the memory of that night did not deter him or his family. The couple found help from a church that got together and gave them free furniture that they used in their first apartment.
Williams landed in the country as a permanent resident.
“There are over 80 immigration flows,” she said. “I went through the Federal Skills Worker via Express Entry. “
She said it didn’t take long for her to find work, and within three months of arriving she was working in a middle management position.
“In 22 months, we bought our first house.
She said there were still plenty of tearful moments in her first year in the country but the family had also won so many victories.
“It turned out to be a good decision in the long term. I have nothing negative to say in hindsight, but at the time I was stressed.
After enduring such a trying time of transition, Williams decided to post her experiences as an immigrant on YouTube.
“People reached out to say, ‘Hey. I will be in your city ”, and I met them. I did this for (almost) two years. It wasn’t a business or anything. I did this to make connections.
She said her first pickup took place a month after her family landed, when she herself was still new to the experience. She also volunteered to help refugees enter the country, where she also met people who ended up in a foreign country.
It was through these volunteer efforts that Williams decided she could make it into a business model.
“I decided that it would probably be good to start a business for the Caribbean moving to Canada. “
In June 2021, she registered her business, Settle Successful Services, and became a full-time entrepreneur. The company consists of a team of three men, including Williams’ husband and brother.
“Canada is huge. People underestimate this. We live in Edmonton. I wanted to create a space where if you land in Toronto, you will find people in Toronto who can help you.
Williams has clients in Jamaica, Barbados, Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia, Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago.
“What they like is that I know their culture well. I realize there is a huge trust factor. I wanted to bridge the gap by finding immigration consultants.
Williams said she herself moved because she wanted more opportunities and a safe space to raise her children.
“I had all these business ideas,” she said, adding that she also wished for more opportunities for herself.
She said she wanted to start a business that would help other immigrants overcome the hassle of migration. The company offers airport pickup, document acquisition, accommodation acquisition, furniture collection and moving transport, as well as city tours.
In addition to the settlement services provided by the company, Williams has also written an 80-page electronic manual for those considering migrating. The book, she said, is an immigration journal and workbook called The Waiting, and compiles the experiences of other immigrants.
Williams also founded a private community called The Village where people from the Caribbean can connect with others who have previously landed in Canada for support.
She said the business has not been without challenges.
“Every client I receive presents a new challenge. One of my clients, a single mother of two, moved away and her luggage was lost in transit, ”she said. The luggage contained all of the woman’s immigration documents, including her work permit.
“She landed in Edmonton without legal papers.”
Fortunately, Williams said she was able to replace the documents, but it took a while. She said she had another client who arrived in Canada and stayed with her family for two weeks before she and her children were deported.
“She had nowhere to go and the money was limited. She took a bus with her two children to Edmonton (for me) and I was able to find an apartment, a job and a school within a week.
Williams said she feels very proud of her clients.
“They are doing great things. My first clients buy houses. Most are in management positions. I watch them and I am so proud to have been a part of their journey.
A client, Tamika De Gannes, who arrived in Canada in August, explained how Williams gave her the warmest welcome with “an impromptu rhythm section” to help make the experience easier to enjoy.
“As a newly landed immigrant, there is a lot to learn from this new culture: how to apply for a job, how to stand out as a new immigrant applying for a job, how to save for a car, a mortgage, how to create credit. I had so much to learn and Kelise gave me impeccable direction with her advice and her book, The Waiting, ”De Gannes said in a message to WMN.
Williams hopes to turn the business into a cooperative and will launch an app in February 2022. The app, she said, aims to help immigrants successfully navigate their experience and help the Caribbean connect with each other. others in Canada.
“When you’re overseas and hear that accent, it’s exciting. The app will bring the people of the Caribbean together and help them live this experience with dignity and without anxiety. “
Williams said she was not an immigration consultant, but offered referrals to consultants she trusted.
“I don’t like giving advice on immigration because it’s a regulated industry. A lot of people are skeptical because there is a lot of fraud. “
She said 2021 marked a banner year for immigration to Canada with more than 400,000 immigrants settling in the country. “(Canada) is on track to match or beat that in 2022.” She said the country is very pro-immigration.
“The economy depends on immigrants because they have a declining aging population. “
Williams said she offers three tips to potential clients considering a move.
The first one, don’t tell anyone. “It can be disheartening. Everyone knows someone who has failed.
The second, know your deadlines. “Get a feel for what you’re qualified for. Stick to the timeline.
Third, Williams said clients should start planning for their new lives.
“Focus on those things rather than the fears of the move.”
She said she also thinks customers should go out on their own as soon as they land.
“We didn’t have friends or family here. At first I thought it was terrible, but now I see it as a blessing. “