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Michael and his family at Canadian citizenship ceremony

Calling Canada and CWB National Leasing home: an employee’s journey to citizenship

Jani Sorensen

By: , Manager, Communications & Brand

On a September day in 2009, with only one hoodie for warm clothes, Michael Jocson, now Facilities Maintenance Coordinator at CWB National Leasing, arrived in Winnipeg for the first time with his wife Monet and their son Minno, 13, from the Philippines.

They weren’t coming to visit, they were coming to make Winnipeg their permanent home, and, as Michael recalls, it was an early winter that year.

“Whoa, are we in a freezer or what?” Mike recalls saying as soon as he stepped from the airplane to the bridge – he wasn’t even fully outside yet!

The Jocson’s came to Winnipeg thanks to Monet’s sister petitioning for them. They weren’t strangers to immigrating, having lived in California for seven years and also gaining U.S. citizenship.

“Many people say to me, ‘Even if you wanted to leave the Philippines, you could have chosen California over here!’ My response to them is simple; I did this for my son, so he could have access to free education and free health care. These are luxuries for most people around the world, but not here in Canada. Canadians are so fortunate.”

Michael outside CWB National Leasing head office

Michael found a job posting for CWB National Leasing online in 2012. Karolyn Bradley, Facilities Manager, remembers interviewing him.

“Michael was very nice, kind, friendly and respectful and we were impressed with his previous experience,” says Karolyn. “At first Michael was a bit on the shy side, but as his English skills developed he has become more confident with communicating.”

“At my age, I would never get hired for a job like this in the Philippines,” says Michael. Both Michael and Monet gained permanent employment, she is a teacher, and their son is graduating from high school this year. “We purchased a house and own two cars,” Michael says with pride.

Nick Logan, former President and CEO of CWB National Leasing, made a point of building a relationship with every person in the company, including Michael.

“When I met Nick, he just seemed like an old friend,” says Michael. “Whenever he saw me working throughout the building he’d always stop to talk and over the years our relationship just developed.”

“I am proud of the work he does in our building and I tried to tell him that often,” says Nick. “In some cases, it’s hard to find common ground with every person in the company. I am flattered that I was able to do so with him. He is a solid person and will be a huge asset to CWB National Leasing for many years.”

When Nick saw Karolyn’s Intranet post that Michael was taking the oath to get his citizenship, he emailed Michael saying he wanted to attend the ceremony. Michael wrote back downplaying the moment, saying he was sure Nick would be too busy. Nick replied it would be an honour to attend.

Michael with Nick Logan, former President and CEO of CWB National Leasing

“Canadian citizenship is a huge accomplishment for Michael (and anyone for that matter) and I wanted to be there to see the excitement on his face when they shook his hand and pronounced him a Canadian!” says Nick. 

“It’s very touching that our former CEO came to see me take the oath. My English is not so good, so studying Canadian history and passing the exam was a big achievement. When I stepped up to take the oath, I got goose bumps and my eyes welled with tears.”

“It was a WOW moment and a very impressive ceremony, one we should all see,” says Nick. “Michael was so pumped he could hardly talk. There was a smile from ear to ear; tears and his arms were wide open looking for someone to hug.”

Michael Jocson isn’t the first and won’t be the last CWB National Leasing employee to receive his Canadian Citizenship. New employee Marigil Padilla, Senior Quality Assurance Analyst received hers the same day and there are three other employees currently pursuing their citizenship.

“Usually people that are applying for citizenship are well educated, qualified and have passed some stringent standards to be given work permits,” says Nick. “I think CWB National Leasing is wise to tap into this labor pool not only for its impressive talent but also for fellow employees to see the company helping a newcomer succeed in the business community.”

Human Resource Manager Wendy Guilbault says it’s not enough to welcome new Canadians to your workplace, the job must attract potential employees, including the over 140,000 immigrants who have moved to Manitoba since 1999.

“At CWB National Leasing, we encourage all employees, including newcomers, to develop and learn by paying 100 per cent of course costs, including books,” Wendy explains. “We allow employees to take a Family Day off to receive their citizenship, or time off to obtain documents and training as they pursue their citizenship.”

As for Michael, he’s thriving at CWB National Leasing. “He’s always smiling and is willing to help everyone out who asks here in the office,” says Karolyn. “It has been great to see him take ownership of his job and fit right in with everyone around here.”

Michael at work

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