Nova Scotia Helps French Immigrant Shed Stress
NOTE: The following is a feature story from the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration.
NOTE TO EDITORS: A photo of Pierre Lebreton, with wife Jeanne Caillaud and son Matthieu, is available on novascotia.ca/news/Photos/2012/jul/Lebreton.jpg .
Nova Scotia means a lot to Pierre Lebreton. It's where he met his wife and where he works at a job that he loves. And it's where, with help from the Nova Scotia Nominee Program, he became a permanent resident of Canada.
"It was really a good, good feeling," says Lebreton, who became a permanent resident in 2008. He and his wife, Jeanne Caillaud, also a Nova Scotia Nominee Program participant and permanent resident of Canada, live in Prospect Bay. They are the parents of Matthieu, born in January 2011.
"I lost my stress when I came here," says Lebreton, who is from France. "I think my son can be happy here because it's more friendly and I think Canada is big enough for him to find something to do one day."
Lebreton says his and Caillaud's hometowns are only about 40 kilometres apart, but their paths never crossed while they were in France. It took Nova Scotia to bring them together.
Caillaud was already living in the province when Lebreton arrived in December 2007 on a work holiday visa. Born in Nantes, which is situated close to the Atlantic coast of France, Lebreton was attracted by Halifax's proximity to the sea. He also liked its size.
Caillaud, through her work at the time with Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse, took Lebreton on a tour to introduce him to locations of interest in Halifax Regional Municipality. They visited the Alliance Française and the Halifax campus of Université Sainte-Anne.
Lebreton and Caillaud's friendship continued and grew. "In France I never found the best person to share my life with, it was here," he says.
The tour of Université Sainte-Anne was a fortunate one for Lebreton. He is a group training advisor at Sainte-Anne after beginning as a French as a second language teacher. He says his "task list is really wide," which clearly suits him.
For example, he has developed curriculum and materials for a French as a second language program for health workers. He also provides IT support for his department and beyond, including website work for the Canadian Consortium for Language Training.
"For me, it's fun, because I do a lot and my day goes very fast and my boss is very nice," he says. "We say it in French, 'carte blanche.' It's like a green light, when I do something. So I can do what I want, I just have to speak a little bit with him to get the approval. But most of the time I'm independent, so it's nice."
Lebreton brings a diverse background to his position. He was a chef for eight years, with a special interest in traditional French cooking, before returning to school. He studied information technology at university and later worked for Microsoft in France. His first job in Nova Scotia was as a school janitor.
French as a second language co-ordinator Daniel Lamy values the different workplace experiences Lebreton brings to Université Sainte-Anne.
"It's very good for us because we have to be versatile here," he says. "We are a customized training service and we have to be customer-oriented, so he is good at this just because of his former experience."
Lamy also admires the perseverance Lebreton has shown as he takes on new roles.
"He has a good imagination. If he doesn't know how to do something he will easily imagine a new way of doing things."
Lebreton also likes to keep busy outside work. Called "handyman" by friends, he does renovations for them and himself. He appreciates what life in Nova Scotia has made possible, such as owning a home, which he says would be prohibitive in France.
Lebreton also takes pleasure in the natural surroundings that are part of Nova Scotia.
"I like the environment, the scenery, we are close to the sea," he says. "I like the size of Nova Scotia. It's a human size."
And while Lebreton enjoys Nova Scotia, he is happy to have a special piece of France that he can share with family and friends, through his culinary gifts.
"Here, for me, it's a small part of France because I continue to cook French cooking," he says. "Sometimes we have some friends who come from France, too, so we do a meal together with French cooking because sometimes it's good to remember where you come from."