Expats in Canada : No Matter What, There’s a Group For You
Moving abroad can be a daunting experience, and it really helps to have someone who has successfully experienced the transition to talk to — both before you leave home and once you land.
And once you move into your new place, it’s nice to connect with people from back home and start making friends, expatriates and Canadians alike. We’ve rounded up the best expat community groups across Canada newcomers should check out.
British Expat Forum In Canada
Brits in Vancouver Island
This community Facebook page was started by an expat from Scotland in 2012 and is there to help others thinking of moving to Canada. It is daunting to move overseas, especially when you don’t know anyone in your new home. On the Brits in Vancouver Island About page, it says: “Always happy to meet up with others from the UK who find it hard making new friends as well as a new life.”
The ORIGINAL Vancouver British Expats Group
This Meetup group started back in 2006 and is for you “if you are a Brit, know a Brit, have spent time in Britain, or simply like British culture.” It would probably help if you lived in Vancouver, too. The Vancouver British Expats hold monthly club nights and welcome suggestions for new events, activities and questions about life in Canada.
Irish and New in Toronto
This closed Facebook group is to help Irish expatriates new to Toronto settle in, with advice from those who have come before them. You’ll read experiences of how others have settled in, and can use the group to find social and sporting events. There are items listed for sale, city issues that might be of interest and job notifications, as well.
Irish Association of Toronto
Promoting cultural activities in the Greater Toronto Area, the Irish Association of Toronto would be happy to spread the word about your Irish event. Contact Leah at irishto.ca and let her know the details. The group’s details are posted on its website and Facebook account, which you’re invited to join to keep up with community notices, information and cultural events. Outings include pub events four times a year or more at local Irish pubs.
Irish in Regina
A group of nearly 700 members, Irish in Regina welcomes anyone from Ireland who lives or intends to live in the Regina area of Saskatchewan. Bring your jacket if you’re moving there: Regina is one of Canada’s coldest cities, with January nighttime lows of -18 degrees Celsius.
Irish in Calgary
With 5,000+ members, this five-year old private Facebook group serves as both an information resource for Irish immigrants in Calgary as well as a forum to sustain a connection by those expats to their home country. The social aspect is stressed, with an invitation to friends and family to get to know fellow Irish, make new friends in Canada and share their own experiences in making Calgary their new home.
Irish in Edmonton
A private group of some 3,700 members, Irish in Edmonton asks that new members allow the admin to view their profiles. They are looking for people who have active accounts, with friends and photos on the timeline, in an effort they say to “keep ‘eddies’ out”. If you have an obvious history on Facebook, there’s a good chance you’ll be accepted.
Irish Living in Montreal
Members are encouraged to post on this 1,500-member group. Anyone from Ireland, anyone who has Irish ancestry or anyone who is interested in Irish culture is welcome at Irish Living in Montreal. The community shares any Irish and Celtic happenings in Montreal; the only type of posts they reject are those regarding sales, so ads or promotional posts should be posted elsewhere.
Irish in Saskatoon
This is a group for Irish already living in Saskatoon, a city in Saskatchewan, or those hoping to. The closed group of more than 1,400 is not moderated, so posts by members go up immediately. However, users who post anything that does not add benefit to group members or is considered spam by the administrators and will be blocked.
Irish and New in Vancouver
There’s no description for this private Facebook group with more than 3,200 members, but the admins hail from Ireland and either currently live in or have lived in Vancouver. Same kind of connection to Ireland and Vancouver when you scroll through the member list, so if you’re Irish and New in Vancouver, you should join and take part.
Irish Socialising in Calgary
Joseph Francis O’Donnell, originally from Dublin, started this public Facebook group called Irish Socialising in Calgary. He writes that his motivation is because “trying to find new friends while away from home can be hard.” To date, there are nearly 700 members, and you can feel free to post ideas — whether it’s a summer camping trip or a night out on the town — for the group to get together and have fun in Calgary.
Irish Around Canada
Stephen Palmer’s Irish Around Canada seeks to make moving west as easy as possible for Irish Expats. The website also features a popular blog, addressing concerns from money transfers, integrating into the area, tax issues and generally « things to do ». A must for the Irish in Canada.
Noel, originally from Kildare, moved to Toronto in 2014 after few years travelling the world and living in Australia. Eironto is part of a plan to « eventually put together a useful resource for people who are living in Toronto or considering making the move. ». Noel’s blog shows he’s achieved good things so far.
Kia Ora Canada – Toronto
Formerly Kea Toronto, this closed Facebook group of 400-plus members aims to connect Kiwi expats or anyone with Kiwi connections who are living in Canada’s province of Ontario. Kia Ora Canada is a community that operates to bring people together socially as well as for business, and you’ll see posts regarding events and opportunities. There’s a monthly meet-and-mingle at Hemingway’s, a Toronto bar on Cumberland Street, owned by Kiwi Martin McSkimming.
Kia Ora Vancouver
This public group welcomes Kiwis in Vancouver with its 800-plus members connecting Kiwi expats and those with links to the Kiwi community throughout the province of British Columbia. Kia Ora Vancouver joined forces with Kiwis in Vancouver (Caniwis) last year, and is now one group bringing Kiwis together to connect and celebrate.
Aussies in Vancouver
This Facebook community page offers information about Vancouver and other matters relevant to living away from home. From discussing featured areas of the city, upcoming local events and shows, you can also find more technical help from the Aussies in Vancouver group, including the visa renewal process, passport renewal process, application for MSP, SIN, and permanent residency.
American Expats in Toronto
Meet up with some fellow Americans in the American Expats in Toronto to swap stories, share experiences, grab a beer and have laugh. Everyone’s invited to participate, whether you are a permanent transplant to Toronto, just visiting for work, a Canadian partner or a Canadian who spends time in the US.
India Canada Association
Founded in 2012 “by a bunch of dedicated, enthusiastic and passionate Indians, who chose to build a home far away from home,” the India Canada Association understands the challenges and initial loneliness of being alone in a new country. The group has regular culture events in the Ottawa-Gatineau area of Ontario and Quebec, and say they bond together, creating a family-like environment, which you’re invited to be part of.
Ruairi Spillane created Moving2Canada, a service especially useful for anyone over the age of 35 who is ineligible for a working holiday visa, and needs to secure employment before travelling to Canada, particularly those with a background in construction or engineering. The website features a wealth of information on all things work and life-related.
Going Solo to Toronto
This is a closed Facebook group for anyone going to Toronto on their own to give each other a bit of support. While it isn’t specifically targeted at expats, it certainly welcomes them in addition to Canadians from other cities, towns and provinces who are giving The Megacity a whirl solo. The group has a few hundred members at the time of writing, many of whom are from abroad.
IEC Working Holiday Forum
With about 6,700 members, this private Facebook group serves as a forum where people planning on applying to the International Experience Canada (IEC) visa program can discuss issues, ask questions and get the benefit of others’ experiences. There are settlement tips, immigration and employment advice, and recruitment for construction and engineering jobs at the IEC Working Holiday Forum.
University of Calgary International Students
This is an open Facebook group with more than 4,300 members, and it’s for both current and prospective international students at the University of Calgary. This is a great place for students from abroad to talk about all things related to life and studying in Calgary at U of C.
InterNations – Canada
With a simple goal of making life easier for expats, InterNations helps expats feel at home abroad through meeting people and finding information about their new environment. It’s a worldwide site, with multiple communities in every country it covers, including Canada. Cities for newcomers to Canada include Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria and London (Ontario). Basic membership is free, with a paid upgrade to a premium membership available.
Images by: DEZALB, Mike Orrick, David Mark, Elijah Lovkoff, Kelsey Vere