Premiere of the Documentary
Friday, May 7, 2004
A world premiere screening of the documentary Just Arrived was
presented recently by the Canadian Macedonian Historical Society
at the North York Central Library. The expectant crowd sipped on
Macedonian tea and coffee. After a welcome by the President of
the Society, and the introduction of the director, Sandra Danilovic,
the lights dimmed.
Stefan Nikolovski, the Consulate General and staff represented
the Republic of Macedonia. Omni Television, the financier of the
film, unfortunately was unable to attend. Omni has distribution
rights of the film throughout North America, and the world.
The film sparked lively conversation afterwards. There is something
electric about having the director available for questions. Two
out of the three families that appeared in the film were also present.
This was an honest portrayal of experiences of new immigrants to
Canada. It was relevant, regardless of where the immigrants were
from. Obviously, we are particularly interested because they are
Their professions ranged from electro-technical engineer and a
math/ computer teacher. (These are skills that Canada needs.) Also
there was a nurse and veterinary technician, who also has been
a music DJ for many years in Macedonia. They all knew that one
had to become qualified, especially in the medical fields, but
there should be more realistic information conveyed to the prospective
immigrants, so that they are very clear about their expectations
and the realities they will face. The reality is that two years
of re-qualification studies for dentistry costs $45,000 tuition
Sonja has had eight years of dental schooling in Macedonia, and
her husband has more than seven years experience as a Physiotherapist.
With this kind of experience, she approached a dozen Macedonian
dentists. It was very discouraging. All she wanted was an opportunity
to observe, with no pay, the Canadian methods, etc. She later learned
that one could work as a dental technician, without being re-qualified.
After a lot of closed doors, a dentist, who not unlike Sonja faced
the same kind of situation years ago, was able to give her an opportunity
and a job. She was not a Macedonian.
Granted it was a lot worse for immigrants years ago, but the prevailing
attitude they found in the Macedonian community was "we had
it tough, so you can tough it out too!" For those who came
to Canada 40 to 60 years ago, it was extremely tough. In the 40's
when they tried to rent a place, there were signs saying: "No
foreigners". However, that was then, and now is now. A helping
hand eases the way, anytime it is given.
As a community we need to look at the services, or lack of, for
our immigrants. We have university-trained immigrants that are
begging to have their skills used by Canada. Apparently, there
is an organization, in its infancy, which is trying to help recent
Macedonian immigrants. The organization meets in St. Clements's
The documentary also pointed out flaws in the Macedonian government,
and the reasons for leaving well-paid jobs and family. I sincerely
hope that Ms. Danilovic is able to have this documentary presented
in Macedonia as well. Some of the problems are systemic and could
use this kind of "looking glass".
Documentaries are meant to expose different points of view, and
do not have the artificiality of "reality shows". The
documentary reflected views and experiences at the time of the
filming. Of course, after a year in Canada, they will have a different
perspective. However, many in the audience were in tears, as they
remembered their own experiences when they first pulled up roots,
and decided on moving to another country, culture and new language.
Most of these immigrants had at least a working knowledge of English.
The couple in Winnipeg is moving to Ontario; either Windsor or
Toronto, depending on where they find work. Unfortunately, they
were sold a bill of goods by the Manitoba government that was less
than candid. Canada and/or the provinces must communicate clearly
and concisely at the ambassadorial or original application level
in the country of origin so that immigrants do not have unrealistic
expectations. This experience is being repeated with skilled immigrants
from a number of countries, not just from Macedonia.
Sandra Danilovic, director, producer and writer of Just Arrived
was born in Skopje, attended much of her schooling in Canada, with
a BFA from York University. This is her second major documentary.
The first was Portrait of a Street - the Soul and Spirit of College,
depicting several early immigrants to College Street, in Toronto.
Her father, Zoran Danilovic, was the cinematographer for both documentaries.
A good documentary evokes thoughtful conversation and even controversy.
Just Arrived is honest with no punches pulled, or honey coating--
excellent work by Sandra Danilovic.