Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Mexico City, but I consider myself a Canadian born in Mexico. I’ve been calling myself a “Canexican” since I landed in Victoria in 2008.
What brought you to Canada and why did you choose to settle in Victoria?
I followed a boy. I married a guy in Mexico in July 2008 who got accepted at the last minute for the MBA program at UVic starting in August that same year. He had been to Victoria 8 years earlier to study English. His host family was so great and the city so beautiful that he wanted us to experience it together!
Tell us about you and your family.
I’m an only child, but not a spoiled brat! All my family is still back in Mexico. But found a “foster” family in Victoria with very close friends who made my decision to stay in Victoria that much easier – even after a very sad relationship breakdown.
When people ask if I have kids I usually answer: “Not yet”, but only time will tell. After all, I’m over 40 and not getting any younger.
What do you wish people understood better about your Mexican heritage?
I wish more people knew that the Mexico depicted by the Netflix series is not the real thing. Sure, there are safety, political, and economical challenges. But Mexico is a magical country filled with rich cultural heritage, friendly people, and lots of colour, music, and the tastiest food!
I also wish people knew “Cinco de Mayo” is just a good excuse to drink Corona beer, much like St. Patrick’s Day is to the Irish community.
What is your current profession? Why did you choose that as a career?
I am a Brand Marketing Specialist. This career has allowed me to apply many of my multiple interests and skills, which makes it a great fit for both my personal fulfillment and my employer.
What are 3 things you appreciate about Victoria and the community?
My top 3 favourite things about Victoria are:
1) Nature. Every day I look out the window and find myself in awe admiring the rainforest, the ocean, the mountains, the sunsets, the wildlife… breathing in all that fresh air and breathing out any worries. It’s therapeutic, almost.
2) Scale. To me, our city is just the right size. Not too small that I’d get bored without the dining options and cultural events I love to attend, but also not big enough for matters like traffic, pollution, or violence to be an issue.
3) The Westcoast lifestyle. Being able to work from home in a national organization to then go swim at the lake with my friends or bike downtown to grab a bite is simply priceless.
What have been the challenges of living in Victoria as a newcomer?
When I was planning to move to Victoria, my family kept telling me what a great professional opportunity it would be for me. I had worked for multinational companies including IBM, Nestle, and United Airlines, and I was spoke English fluently and even spoke some French.
What we didn’t account for was the fact that I had no community connections whatsoever and nobody in town seemed to care that I was a top student in a very prestigious Mexican university. All that mattered was who knew me and how quickly I could adapt to what was required of me. It also took me a while to get used to following the seasons. In Mexico, we have lots of different fruits and veggies available year-round and my wardrobe is not very seasonal-specific.
Making friends in Victoria was also challenging at the beginning. I tried joining a gym, took skating lessons, signed up for a choir and volunteered at the Canadian Diabetes Association. Unfortunately, most people I met were not my age, or had a busy family life with kids, or moved away to pursue better work opportunities. It wasn’t until I became a more active member of the Latin-American Catholic Community in Victoria, that I found people who spoke my language, understood my traditions, and shared my family values.
What do you miss about Mexico?
Especially during COVID-19 times, I miss hugging my parents, having Sunday supper at my grandparents’ house and chatting away with my aunts, uncles, and cousins.
I miss being able to eat delicious al pastor tacos after a night out with friends.
I miss freshly squeezed mandarin juice with huevos rancheros for breakfast, served by a waitress that calls me “beautiful” and smiles every time she talks.
I miss the everyday sounds of the neighbourhood I grew up in: the bell announcing the garbage collection truck, the high-pitched whistle of the knife sharpener, the loud cries of services offered door to door (water, bread, natural gas, second-hand collection), and the music of buskers playing for change donations.
I miss having a hard time deciding what concert to attend and what art gallery to visit any given day of the week.
I miss stuffing my face with homemade fresh food during my lunch break for less than $8.
I miss the colourful streets, the interesting and diverse architecture… I miss a part of me.
What accomplishments in your professional career are you proud of?
The fact that I can work doing what I do best and what I went to school for in a country that is my second home, in a language that is not my mother tongue, at a level in which I can make strategic contributions make me (and my parents) very proud.
In 2017, I was the orchestrator of a multi-layered year-long marketing campaign to celebrate Thrifty Foods’ 40th Birthday, which was awarded the Excellence in Retailing Award by the Retail Council Canada – beating nominees like Roots, Canadian Tire, and even Sobeys!
Do you think Victoria is a welcoming community?
In general, I’d say Victoria is not more welcoming and inclusive than any other smaller town. Locals tend to have their own social circles and won’t typically go out of their way to include someone new, unless they have a shared personal interest upon which to build on and foster a sincere friendship. In my experience, I’d say living in Victoria is not for everyone, as it takes an active effort to earn your place and it requires a humble approach to persevere in leveraging our uniqueness as a strength that can contribute to enrich the greater community.