A story of a Filipino immigrant who braved the Northern Territories, a land of many opportunities
Extreme cold weather, extended daylight in the summer and longer darkness during the winter- these are the common answers that stand out when people are asked why they will not consider working, let alone living in the northern territories of Canada.
James Javier is one of those who looked beyond these things – he saw the opportunities that the north offered. It was in 2008 when James, together with his brother, immigrated to Norman Wells, Northwest Territories in Canada through sponsorship by their mother. At that time, James’ mother was working for The North West Company as a Department Manager. Originally from the Philippines, James’ mother saw the many possibilities in the North as the best means to bring her kids over and start a new life in Canada.
Coming from the Philippines, the move was a complete culture shock for James. From a busy to the laid-back lifestyle, he also had to get used to a small community where everybody practically knew each other. In his mind, he had to start somewhere being an immigrant.
Just a few days after he arrived in Norman Wells, he and his brother got employed by The North West Company. Thanks to the employment opportunity that their mother’s company had extended to them. “We were very fortunate because not everyone is given this opportunity especially with immigrants like us.”
James started as a Grocery Clerk in Norman Wells. Every time a new opportunity comes up where he thinks he can advance in terms of experience and position, he would apply for it. “There’s always a new position that you can apply for, limitless chance for growth.” James shared. In just a few years, James became a General Merchandise Supervisor in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT and later as a Grocery Department Manager in Tulita, NWT. He also got to experience a relief opportunity where he served as Admin Manager in the remote areas of Quebec and Alberta.
From working the store floors to providing training, support and leadership to new staff members, James owes his success to The North West Company not only because of the valuable work experience he received but also the benefits and support that was provided to him throughout his career. “North West Company has provided me with a lot of incentives- from housing to food allowance to paid travel vacations. A relocation package is also in place every time I move and it gives me the confidence that this employment opportunity is something that can be extended to my friends and relatives who are looking to start a career.“
James does not discount the fact that the weather conditions and lifestyle are two major concerns for most people who are considering to work up north. He was thankful that this is something that was not a big of a deal for him and that he stayed on top of it. In fact, it worked to his advantage and he had eventually learned to love the community.
The North West Company stores offer a variety of services like a post office, income tax return preparations, money transfer, cheque cashing and a lot more. It is a one-stop-shop for the majority of the population in the remote areas of the north. “A lot of people come to our store for their everyday need and I see most of them on a regular basis. It’s nice that you know them and they know you. It’s a great community,” James said with pride.
James also shared that one’s interest is also important to consider in living up north. If you are an outdoorsy type of person who loves adventures, the north is definitely for you. It also works for people who do not like the hustle and bustle of the city life. But if you want to get busy by earning more, there are always opportunities.
Currently, James is now in a new role as POS Support Specialist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He believes that his longstanding years of experience in various departments in the company have definitely helped him in getting the position. James frequently travels to remote store locations in Canada and the United States to train and support staff.
“Being with the North West Company has helped me overcome obstacles. Moving to the northern territories of Canada from the Philippines required a great deal of adjustments. But because of the work experience I had with my employer, I was able to thrive and not just survive. Looking back, the whole experience had prepared me to where I am now- where I know I can do anything, I can do more.”
See our Northern/NorthMart ad on this page to find out about careers with The North West Company