Aminata and I had met for the first time at a barbecue given by common Cameroonian friends in the suburbs a few weeks ago. While driving her home, at the request of our hosts, I learned that she had been living in the Bordeaux area for a year.
Born in Côte d'Ivoire, Aminata, better known as Amy, has completed solid accounting studies in Abidjan. Still very young, she had a first opportunity to work abroad when a participation in a professional exchange program in France was offered to her by an international counseling firm. During that stay, she missed her family a lot and called her mother frequently.
Back in Côte d'Ivoire, the outbreak of the national crisis pushed her to undertake immigration procedures to Canada. However, the crisis, which got worse in 2004, lengthened the procedures to a full five years.
Her arrival in Montreal was difficult. The recognition of her diplomas dragged over nearly a year. Conscious of her competences, she did not want to start at the bottom of the ladder. At one point, well-meaning employees at an immigrant assistance center even suggested that she erase most of her CV in order not to seem too skilled. This, to her, amounted to a lie, in addition to self-devaluation.
It is via a detour in Alberta that she managed to acquire her first professional experience in this country. Equivalencies of diplomas were granted to her within a month in that province!
Because of a stronger attachment to Quebec, she returned here after a year. One of her brothers has since joined her in Montreal, while her sister and another brother are still in Côte d'Ivoire.
With a better knowledge of English and a Canadian work experience, she was able to make her way here. Working as a professional accountant, she has held positions as controller and accounting auditor.
Amy also loves artistic activities such as drawing. When we met a second time to chat and take photos in the context of this project, she was proudly wearing a beautiful dress she has designed herself and had sown for her in Côte d'Ivoire.