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Finding Home in Canada

$30 Fine Silver Coin — Fireworks at the Falls

One of the great things about Canada is that it means different things to different people. For Royal Canadian Mint Marketing Program Manager Sharon Carvalho, it’s a country where her daughter can grow up with a sense of home. Sharon and her husband moved here from Dubai in spring 2017. We talked to her about her experience of living in Ottawa, what she likes best about Canada and why Canada Day 2018 will be a big deal for her family.

ROYAL CANADIAN MINT: What made you decide to bring your family to Canada?

SHARON CARVALHO: The short answer is my husband was born and raised here, so our daughter has Canadian citizenship and we wanted her to understand where she comes from.

RCM: And the long answer…?

SHARON: I was born in Dubai, but because my father was a Portuguese citizen and my mom was from India, I have a Portuguese passport. That’s common throughout the Middle East: everyone seems to be from somewhere else, according to their citizenship. So a lot of kids grow up not belonging to the country they were born in but also not really knowing the country they’re officially citizens of. We wanted our daughter to feel like she belongs somewhere.

RCM: What does she think of Canada so far?

SHARON: She’s only two-and-a-half, so she’s taking it all in. She spent most of the winter pressed up against the living room window wanting to go out and play in the snow!

RCM: What were your first impressions of Canada?

SHARON: I was surprised how many older people there are here. In Dubai, you need to have a job to stay in the country, so a lot of older people end up moving back to the countries they came from. And experiencing four seasons is the oddest thing! But beautiful. We love getting out in nature. We go up to Champlain Lookout in Gatineau Park all the time.

RCM: That’s one thing Canada is famous for, its nature.

SHARON: It’s endless. There’s a lot of space. Not to sound poetic, but it gives you a feeling about the country — of endless possibilities. The other difference is that people here think longer-term. That comes from the sense of place, of belonging. When you have a feeling of home, you make plans and think about the future. People in Dubai think much more short-term.

RCM: How did you come to work for the Mint?

SHARON: I’ve been in marketing for 13 years. That was my job in Dubai. So I was intrigued by the opportunity to be a marketing program manager at the Mint. I manage campaigns to let people know about our numismatic and circulation coins. My old job was in technology, so this has been fun, getting to know the world of coins.

RCM: What are you working on right now?

SHARON: We are rolling out a campaign for Canada Day promoting the Hearts Aglow coin that launched in May. It’s a glow-in-the-dark coin.

RCM: Is there a coin you particularly like?

SHARON: I like the Fireworks at the Falls fine silver coin . It also glows in the dark. And it has Niagara Falls, which everyone who comes to this part of Canada feels like they need to see! We took our daughter there. That one is a good coin for Canada Day, too.

RCM: So you must have been here for Canada 150 last year.

SHARON: We had just arrived, really. I didn’t totally understand the significance of it. This year — we’ve been in Canada long enough now, I have a much better appreciation of Canada Day and what it means. I’m really looking forward to it this year. We have a home here. You know, my husband is from here but his parents were originally from India and lived in Kenya. My dad’s parents were Portuguese but lived in a Portuguese colony in India called Goa. My mom is Indian. So we are this multicultural, multinational family, and here we are, finally home — in the capital of Canada.

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