To the Brazilians Interested to Live in Alberta

In attention to a number of emails, and phone calls we have been receiving in the past month, which are still arriving daily, we decided to write this letter to Brazilians who are asking us for help. Unfortunately we won’t be able to respond personally to each one who contacted us.

First of all, we, from the BCAAB, would like to highlight that we discourage anyone who intends to become an illegal immigrant in Canada, and particularly in Alberta. Although our mandate includes the provision of support for new comers, we would like to make it clear that we won’t be involved with Brazilians who are not here legally. We have received some news about Brazilians in Canada in illegal status, some even in humiliating conditions. Some stories bring concern in terms of their submission to lower than standard wages, as well as life conditions. Those are also under the continuous threat of being found and deported. In addition to exposing themselves to a condition that is not compatible with the idea of a better life, those are also contributing to a negative image of our countrymen as a whole.

We also would like to clarify that our association was formed with the mandate to offer an opportunity for Brazilians and Canadians friends of Brazil to get together and also to promote the Brazilian culture among Canadians. We try to offer support to new comers. However, our mandate does not include providing support for the immigration process, as well as help with finding employment. Having said that, we include below information that we think can be usefull to those interested in living in Alberta.

At the end of 2005 the Alberta government developed an immigration policy defining a goal of 24,000 new immigrants per year. Currently this number is around 14,000 coming directly to Alberta, plus 2,000 who come after arriving in another province. Alberta is going through an economical development phase resulting in an increased need of workers, especially in some sectors. More information regarding this regards can be found at: . In this context, a government program that has been in place for a while has been highlighted as an opportunity for foreign immigrants to attend this demand of work force, in situations where the worker is fully qualified for the job. This program is called Alberta Provincial Nominee Program [PNP]. This option is only available if the application form has a letter from an employer attached. A working permit is given on a temporary basis. More information can be obtained at:

Websites maintained by the Canadian government offer searchable links to jobs available, which can give an idea of the job market.

Canadian Federal government:

At the link above there are also links to job agencies.

Alberta Provincial government:

In addition, the provincial government prepared a site to inform new immigrants to Alberta about important issues:

We recommend that the interest ones check the following in the above link:

  • “Certification and Registration Requirements for Employment in Alberta
    Certain occupations in Alberta require that the individual be certified or registered to be employed. Information on regulated occupations, including basic education, experience and examination requirements, and contact information for the regulatory organization is found on Certinfo"
  • "Trades or Designated Occupations:
    New Albertans with a trade or designated occupation can find out about the requirements for working in Alberta by visiting

However, many Brazilians who immigrate to Alberta come as “skilled workers” and pass by the regular process established by the government, which begins with the application to become an immigrant at a Canadian Consulate. The information required for such application can be found at their website:

The Canadian Consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil, also provides information about the process, and you can visit the website at the following link:

There are also websites developed with the objective to provide information to people interested in coming to Canada, as well as some to provide an environment for sharing of experiences, and to clarify questions. We are providing some of those for your reference, however, please be aware that we do not take responsibility for the accuracy of the information posted on those sites. Therefore, people checking those sites are expected to use their reasoning to decide which information applies to them. Under these conditions we cite:

Rumo ao Canada:
Discussion Forum:

Fluency in English is an expected skill, and those who don’t have it, should acquire it if they are thinking of coming to an English speaking province, such as Alberta.

We are including attached to this letter some general information about Alberta and living in Alberta from a perspective of the daily life compared with living in Brazil.

Brazilian Community Association of Alberta
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Calgary, April 4th, 2006 -  Revised in 2009

Live in Alberta 

Edmonton is the capital of the province of Alberta, and is centrally located. With almost one million inhabitants and is the home of the provincial government offices. Calgary shares with Edmonton the status of more important cities in the province. It is of similar size and is the home of many company national headquarters, specially the ones in the oil business. Calgary and Edmonton are at approximately 3 hours drive apart. Edmonton is closer to the Jasper National Park, while Calgary is located more to the south and closer to Banff National Park and the beautiful and famous Lake Louise. Calgary is also close to the Kananaskis region where the movies Legends of the Fall (1994) and Brokeback Mountain (2005) where filmed.

Approximately 450 Brazilian families live in each city; Calgary and Edmonton.

More information related to economical development can be found at:



Other smaller size cities in the province where there are Brazilians living in are: High River, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Grand Praire, Sylvan Lake, Cochrane, Airdrie and more.

A comprehensive list of universities and colleges in Alberta can be found at the following link:

Following are some positive and negative aspects of the life in Alberta according to our perspective.

  • Live in a place where social differences are not as much of a problem as in Brazil. In case the person has a job with certain stability will have a better life conditions compared to professionals from the middle class in Brazil who need to work many hours to have access to similar conditions. It is not our intention to discuss the economic and/or socio-political reasons for that, however we can say that there is poverty here, and that the native population has serious socio-economical problems.
  • Canadians in general are very receptive to multiculturalism, and Brazilians are welcomed by most of them. Many say that Brazilians are a happy people with good humor.
  • Alberta is the only province in Canada where there is no provincial tax. This tax- equivalent to ICMS in Brazil - can vary from 7 to 11% in other provinces across Canada. It is applies to all processed goods and services, such as food, books, cars and houses.
  • The province school curriculum includes a subject about Brazil in a junior high course. However, this situation may change in the near future as China is supposed to replace Brazil as a subject matter in that course.
  • The health system is known as “universal”, so that everyone should have free access, independent of their bank account. However, it is not a perfect system, and there are those who complain and those who go beyond Canada boundaries for a quicker service, more specialized, and/or offering better resources. There are some who take the opportunity to get health care while on holidays in Brazil.
  • The educational system is public and free to residents from kindergarten to high school. It is considered good. However the students are divided into 3 eves in high school according with their performance. The lower level is less complex and has less information than the middle and higher level. This assignment of levels is per subject, so that the students can interact with students of different levels. However, it can be a challenge for a student assigned to the lower level to move to the higher levels.
    Catholic schools are also public and free, however they require baptism certificate of the child or one of the parents for registration, even though are maintained by public money from tax payers.
    There is also a choice of “French immersion” schools, which are schools where the language spoken throughout is French. Brazilians usually do not choose this option as they prefer to have their kids in a regular school so that English is learned. These schools offer a special program of “English as a Second Language”.
    There are some schools that offer Spanish courses.
  • The winter in Calgary has some breaks with the Chinook. A Chinook is a warm wind that comes from time to time, and can raise the temperature from -10 to 10 C in a few hours. There are those though who have headaches associated with this change and/or the wind.
  • Throughout the province, and especially in the Foothills region where Calgary is located, there is lots of sunshine, which helps to go through the winter with really cold temperatures, specially for those who suffer from mood disorders associated with the lack of daylight.
  • The Brazilian Community in Alberta is very enthusiastic, and there are get-togethers and parties occasionally in Edmonton and in Calgary. However, our community is very small compared to the Brazilian communities in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa.

  • Professionals may take some time to become fully licensed to practice their profession in Alberta. This can happen even for professionals with very high demand, and it is not too uncommon to see professionals delivering pizzas or working in other occupations that do not require their qualification, and often with a lower pay rate.
    There are also some professions that are very difficult for a foreign professional to be able to practice, such as medical doctors and lawyers.
  • English may be a serious communication barrier and therefore to find a good job. There are even cases of people with experience in their field who are selected for job interviews but are not selected, which could be due to the English skills that are not up to the standards.
  • There are also professionals highly qualified, and experienced who lack Canadian experience. Therefore, it is not rare to find professionals working as volunteers to acquire some experience.
  • The cost of life, in general, is higher than in Brazil. Food can be very expensive if compared to Brazilian standards, as for instance a kilo of tomato can cost $5, and a pineapple $ 6. Until the person is in condition to establish a budget, which usually happens when a stable job is found, the difference in price is a challenge to the new comer. Rent can be as high as $1,000 for a house with three bedrooms in a good neighborhood, and can not be deducted as expense in the income tax form.
  • Loss of personal history, friends and family are distant.
  • Undergraduate studies are paid, with no exception. However, there are a few scholarships that are partial with lots of competition, given to those with potential to bring up the school to win sports competitions. The majority of students works during the summer, or have part time jobs during school months. There are those who take bank loans to be paid after they graduate, as there is no interest before they graduate, so that they can pay back after they start working.
  • There is no support for mothers to go back into the work force. Payment of babysitter or daycare is up to the parents if they can afford. However, it is allowed to claim as expense in the income tax form.
  • The winter lasts for six months, and at least for one week the temperature goes to – 40 C with the wind chill.
  • It is dark as early as 4PM in the winter and day light can be as late as 8:30AM.On the other hand, the summer daylight hours can last close to midnight.
  • The air is very dry. Problems caused by indoor heating may be uncomfortable to some. Alternatives to cope with the problem include a humidifier. There could be implications to household items made of wood.
  • Learning how to drive on the snow can be a challenge for many.
  • Car insurance can be very expensive. Newcomers need to overcome a period of time when they are building a driver record, hopefully of good driver. In some cases the cost of the insurance is higher than the cost of the car. Liability insurance is mandatory in the province, and across Canada.
  • If you live in a house you are responsible for shoveling the snow on the sidewalk in front of your house. This is a way to assure that people can walk on the streets even in days of bad weather.



Last Updated (Sunday, 24 January 2010 23:15)

Coral da BCA - BCA's Choir


Let's Sing !
Aiming to preserve and promote the Brazilian Culture in Canada, BCA-AB is creating a singing group (choir).
The rehearsals (about 1.5h) are weekly at Casa do Brasil, at the time that best suits the participants' schedules.

If you are interested, would like to know more about the group and/or know more about this initiative please send a message to

See you soon!

Call for dancers


BCAAB Board Members

Please note that all board members are VOLUNTEERS, ie all board directors of the BCAAB do not receive any payment or financial compensation for their work for the association.

President: Pedro Almeida
Past President: Marize Bongiovanni
Vice-President: André Torres
Treasurer: Cristina Alcoforado
Secretary: Danielle Drake
Secretary-Treasurer: Aline Trevisan
Sports Director: Rogerio Verdolin
Cultural Director: Elísia Teixeira
Director: Harry Zaft
Director: Thiago Valentin