There’s no place like home
For the past seven years, Gerard Burke has been helping to build Saskatchewan … literally.
In 2009, the journeyman carpenter moved from Ireland to work in the Saskatoon construction industry. His friend Damien Collevy followed, and soon after the two started their own home construction and renovation business, CFN Construction.
The decision to move to Saskatoon – Saskatchewan’s largest city – came naturally. Gerard’s wife grew up in Saskatoon and her family still lived there. However, the couple had lived in Ireland for several years and was raising two sons there. His wife wasn't sure if she wanted to move back. But Gerard saw an opportunity to be part of the growing construction sector in Saskatoon.
He applied to immigrate through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP). “I received an offer of employment from a home builder in Saskatoon who supported my application to the SINP,” Gerard says. “The program allowed me to live and work in Saskatchewan as a temporary foreign worker while waiting for my permanent residency application to be processed. The process was straightforward and transparent.”
Gerard says the apprenticeship training they received in Ireland equipped him and his partner Damien to start their own business after becoming permanent residents.
“Through our quality work, we’ve been fortunate to meet more and more people and develop a good name in the city,” he says.
This success has allowed the partners to hire skilled employees from Ireland through SINP to complement their Canadian workforce. A competitive business climate and business-friendly government have contributed to their ongoing success, he adds.
A great place to be
Another benefit resulting from the move to Saskatchewan was the opportunity to give his family a better quality of life. His wife found a part-time teaching position that allows her the flexibility to earn money and spend time with the children. From their perspective, the province’s education system is excellent. The public health care system is another advantage, compared to Ireland where they had to pay for health care.
When talking to people back in Ireland, the question he most often gets is about Saskatchewan’s cold winters. Gerard says he would rather be outside in -30 Celsius in the sunshine than back in Ireland where it is often wet and windy in the winter.
“I love the sunshine here and tell people back in Ireland that every time they ask about the weather.”
For his family, Saskatchewan is the best place in the world to live. He finds the people here are similar to the Irish. “They're very welcoming, and if you're fair and honest with them, they treat you the same way.”