Overcoming cultural differences

Svjetlana (Lana) Vrbanic
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Mining engineer from Ukraine hopes to make Labrador City his home

As a mining town, Labrador City attracts people from all over Canada and the rest of the world.

Leo Arbet came to work for IOC as a medium-range planner in October and finds it difficult being separated from his family, whom he hopes will join him soon from Sudbury.

Leo Arbet, a medium-range planner at IOC, from Ukraine, hopes to overcome cultural differences and make this mining town his home. - Photo by Svjetlana Vrbanic/Special to The Aurora

Labrador City -

As a mining town, Labrador City attracts people from all over Canada and the rest of the world.

Leo Arbet came to work for IOC as a medium-range planner in October and finds it difficult being separated from his family, whom he hopes will join him soon from Sudbury.

He originally hails from the Ukraine and immigrated to Canada in 2004 with his family, seeking better opportunities.

He worked for different mines in his country and explains his profession even led him to work in Siberia. Once in Canada, he continued with similar work, moving from Ontario to Saskatchewan to Labrador.

Arbet admits to missing his life back home, but he resolutely states he has no regrets.

When he moved to Labrador City, he says he appreciated IOC's hospitality. The company provided him with a temporary apartment.

Arbet admits he's having a little difficulty in getting a furnished residence prepared for his wife and daughter, whom he is expecting to come by the end of January.

His older daughter is completing a program at Humber College so she's probably going to stay in Ontario, he says, but Arbet is encouraged at the opportunities that A.P. Low Primary School will be able to offer his younger one.

With a medical background, he hopes that his wife will be able to find work with the local hospital, which in such a remote area is always in need of good doctors.

He admits there are differences in culture, schooling, and language, which can pose a barrier to any newcomer.

There is always that fear, explains Arbet, that he would not be able to connect with his colleagues because they don't understand each other's jokes.

With a background in mining engineering, he was shocked to find no engineer at the town hall who would supervise construction in the community and keep contractors in check. However, he believes that the town does have some good infrastructure.

Religious traditions in Canada also find him particularly bewildered. He just can't understand why the churches here aren't open all of the time. Although Arbet would describe his family as Christian, (Ukraine hosts both Catholic and Orthodox religions), he is afraid that the churches in Canada just would not be able to accommodate the cultural differences.

However, he acknowledges integration into Canadian society will be easier for his daughters, who are second-generation citizens.

This Christmas, Arbet said, he will spend time with his family in Sudbury, but plans on returning to Labrador City in January.

After all, he says, he believes Labrador City is a good place to live in and he hopes to overcome any cultural differences with the support of his family. He said he also hopes the current economic crisis won't strike IOC since he plans on working for them for a long time to come.

Organizations: Humber College, IOC, A.P. Low Primary School

Geographic location: Labrador, Canada, Ukraine Sudbury Ontario Siberia Saskatchewan

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Recent comments

  • James
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Labrador City is lucky to have a new son. Your experiences, traditions, and background will enrich your community -- hold on to them. Welcome Mr. Arbet.

  • Michelle
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Welcome to Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Arbet- and to your family. I have often marveled at the courage of those who have emigrated to a new land. I am sure that the wonderful people of Labrador City will help you make yourself at home. In the meantime, practice your traditions and introduce your new friends to your culture and tell them of your heritage. May you and your family enjoy the journey.

  • James
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Labrador City is lucky to have a new son. Your experiences, traditions, and background will enrich your community -- hold on to them. Welcome Mr. Arbet.

  • Michelle
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Welcome to Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Arbet- and to your family. I have often marveled at the courage of those who have emigrated to a new land. I am sure that the wonderful people of Labrador City will help you make yourself at home. In the meantime, practice your traditions and introduce your new friends to your culture and tell them of your heritage. May you and your family enjoy the journey.