Darya Shalev lived in the beautiful town of Zichron Ya’akov in Israel. It is one of the first modern settlements, located on Mount Carmel with amazing views over the coastal plain and the Mediterranean Sea. In Israel she managed an after-school program for children and loved her job. Having a creative personality, Shalev enjoyed dancing and teaching others, painting and doing crafts.
She came to Canada in 2013, largely due to the political and economic situation in Israel. She also wanted to change her personal situation: open a business, further develop her skills. It was hard for her to do so in Israel, being divorced with two children to raise.
“It took me about three years to have my application processed. I also had to spend a lot of money because I didn’t know the process at the time. So, it was tough for me,” Shalev said.
As a child educator with over 20 years of experience, she received a job offer to teach Hebrew, and worked as a private tutor for a family in Vancouver.
“I was a very independent person before, used to travel all over the world. It was a big change for me to live with another family… I travelled around Vancouver a lot trying to learn more about life in Canada. I didn’t have any friends, so I was by myself a lot,” Shalev recalled.
Moving to Penticton
The family that she worked for moved to the South Okanagan – the mother got a job in Kelowna and they settled in Penticton.
“When we came here… this is a fairy tale about how I found my husband, Greg… I sat at a coffee shop and this is when I met him …it was very strong. It was fate.”
In one year, the family that she worked for could not afford to employ her anymore and she was left without a job or visa.
“I did not want to burden Greg with my financial situation. We just met and were getting to know each other. It was challenging to survive but I have good faith – if I want something, I am going to do it,” she said.
In a few years, when they got married, Shalev decided to start her own business – a daycare for eight children. She went through the licensing process and everyone was helpful along the way. She bought all the equipment for children but then found out that she could not use the space upstairs because the children couldn’t sleep in the same space. This meant that she could only work with three children, instead of eight.
Opening a New Business
Greg thought about a new business idea – a driving school they named Right Turn Driving School.
“Apparently, he is a great teacher. We have clients from all over the region. And I am good at running a business as well. I didn’t know that. It wasn’t like that in the beginning. I had to learn a lot and I asked people to teach me, and I didn’t give up,” Shalev explained.
“Now I am ready to start another business – something very close to my heart. I am an art and dance therapist, so I hope to start a centre where I can work with people and share my knowledge.”
“I had to leave behind my two daughters. It was the most challenging thing for me to do. They are 24 and 21 years old now. The older one is studying at a university and the younger one is in a special needs program. She has autism. I can support them now, which I couldn’t do after my divorce. My mom is also there, and my friends. Everyone thought I was crazy to leave my life behind but I believe they are not thinking like this now. My daughters have their family, their life there and I am building my life here.”
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This profile is a part of the Community Champions campaign of the South Okanagan-Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership (SOSLIP). The Partnership project is led by the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS), which provides a range of services for newcomers to the region. This article, written by Elmira Galiyeva, was previously published on Castanet.