Marguerite Orane immigrated to Canada in 2009 and says that there is a lesson for immigrant women.
” When we come to a new country, especially North America, the established diaspora – we are told, or we feel the need to assimilate, but I think it’s very important to remain and stay true to who we are and the culture that we grew up with and to not hide that light under a bushel. Be proud of being Jamaican , proud of being Nigerian, proud of being Grenadian, Trinidadian, whatever it is, Ghanaian and whatever it is when we come over here because there is a lot that we do have to be proud about. “
Migrating to Canada was challenging . Marguerite had immigrated primarily to give her children a 2nd citizenship. . She was in her 50s and her children teenagers.
The transition was easier than many, but still challenging. Despite a Harvard MBA, she couldn’t get full time employment, so she struggled for awhile financially. As she stated “all change is hard. “
Not getting a job turned out to be the greatest gift as she started her own coaching and consulting business. She has become a dynamic and motivating professional speaker, known for her insights on leadership, entrepreneurship and personal growth.
She is recognized for her energetic, passionate approach to facilitating positive growth and transformation in organizations and individuals. Marguerite addresses a broad range of issues – leadership, entrepreneurship, personal growth – with passion and conviction and addressed conferences in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Grand Cayman.
[00:00:00] Marguerite: There is a lesson here for us immigrant women, which is, when we come to a new country, especially one not Americally established diaspora. We are told, or we feel the need to assimilate. But I think it’s very important to remain and stay true to who we are and the culture that we grew up with. And to not hide in that light under a bushel. To be proud of being Jamaican ,proud of being Nigerian, proud of being Grenadian, Trinidadian, whatever it is, Ghanaian whatever it is. When we come over here, because there is a lot that we do have to be proud about.
[00:00:48] Paula: Welcome to “Chatting with the experts”, a podcast for immigrant women from Africa and the Caribbean, who have relocated to the UK, the Us and Canada. In this podcast, we talk about the struggles while highlighting the triumphs, experience, as we share resources and experiences that our fellow immigrant sisters can benefit from. My guest today is a Caribbean sister, Marguerite Orane, who lives and works in Canada. I’ll tell you a bit about Marguerite. She is serious about joy, at work, at play, at home, in fact, wherever you are. Marguerite believes that joy should be. In over 25 years of consulting experience and a lifetime of entrepreneurship, Marguerite has come to realize that it is the person who makes the difference. When people are authentically tuned into themselves, they are able to act from a place of presence, grace, joy, and authenticity thus enriching the lives of others they encounter and also those who they may not encounter. But I’m going to stop here because Marguerite is such an interesting person. I’m going to let her continue so she can tell you more and more about herself, because I don’t think even if I read her bio, I’ll do justice. So Marguerite, welcome to “chatting with the experts”. Tell my listeners all about you.
[00:02:17] Marguerite: Oh my gosh! Thank you so much, Paula. Well let me start with where I am currently. I am currently in Toronto, Canada. I migrated here in 2009, so that’s kind of believe it, what? 12 years ago. And I’m originally from, maybe you listeners can guess, but I’ll save time. I am originally from Jamaica. And I migrated or moved to Canada with my two teenage children and three dogs in 2009. So let me go back to the beginning, I guess. I actually grew up in a family business, my parents had a business and so. There are three children and we all were very involved in the business. And I actually ran the business for a while when I was 23 believe it or not. I was made managing director of the business when my brother decided to go to Harvard business school and convinced me somehow that yeah I would be the perfect person to manage the business well he is eight years older than me So you know when you have an older brother you kind of listen to him right So I said okay sure Well I’m five feet tall that’s five feet tall Then I have a very round face so when I was young I didn’t like the round face but now I love it because I look younger than I am yay for fat cheeks
[00:03:54] Paula: That was my name too fat cheeks
[00:03:57] Marguerite: There you go and the business that my family had was in woodworking So we had I was the boss of seventy men you know hardened construction type workers Anyway all I can say is that it toughend me up fast I ran it for about three years and then I did two things happened I decided to go to do my MBA at Harvard business school And also my parents had got to retirement age and you know everything they had was tied up in the business So we decided to sell the business So that they could have their pension and you know live out their retirement which they did It was lovely I think a lot of people will ask well why did you sell the family business But you know when I look at my parents dad he lived for another 14 years or so after retirement And my mom lived for 13 years after retirement And just how free and happy they were And you know they had the financial sustainability it was an excellent decision So I got my MBA at Harvard business school and I went back to Jamaica which is very unusual most people in the Caribbean Africa And so on When you get your MBA at Harvard business school you stay in the U.S I had no interest I was totally committed to Jamaica I thought I was going to die there live to an old age and just die cause I love the place life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan. So had a wonderful time in Jamaica, ran my own business many businesses in consulting and coaching and facilitation my sister and I had a retail business and decided to move to Canada And the reason for that is you know I looked at the world Paula and I realized that for my children the world is going to be a totally different place to the one i was we were in People need to be mobile People need to be able to go where the jobs are and as a Jamaican at the time and it still is really hard to travel with a Jamaican passport You just automatically assume to be a druggist And I was tired of being you know take notes on lanes and sniff by dogs and that kind of thing So I said you know I really just wanted to give my children and myself cause I love to travel a second citizenship so the U.S was out because as you know it’s hard to migrate to the U.S especially if you don’t have any close relatives So we chose Canada and Canada says yay come So we came to Canada in 2009
[00:06:53] Paula: Wow what a story I mean most people as you rightfully said get that Harvard MBA they stay put nothing will move them out but you did something different You decided to go back to Jamaica You said you had many businesses there You had a retail business with your sister You did coaching You did facilitation You were busy
[00:07:19] Marguerite: Well you grow up in a family business and you’re always working You know you just grow up you know seeing your parents work really really hard We’ve never known nine to five like nine to five What’s that you know because I remember every morning you know [6:30] in the morning you know the phone would ring and it was some customer and they would call and because you know daddy because you know the project was behind and you know deadline and we were getting ready to go to school And then you know mommy would pick us up after school and take us around to ballet and music And then sit at the dining table and do work homework while she was working on the book she kept she was the accountant. And we’d go go to bed and she’d still be sitting down there at the table 9 10 11 o’clock at night working with daddy So you know you grow up like that, you don’t know anything else right That’s it, that’s normal.
[00:08:22] Paula: I get you and so to small business owners all over the world listening, you see nothing is new under the sun . So this was going on a long time ago Okay. So you decided to come to Canada to give your children a better opportunity. Even though as you said life in Jamaica was so good And primarily also I guess you were forward thinking you’re thinking ahead. The Jamaican passport you said was not respected, and maybe that’s not the word but we’ll say.
[00:08:54] Marguerite: Let me clarify here, let me clarify, because this thing about being Jamaicans is very interesting. So the Jamaican passport, it’s not so good to get you through the border, but once you get in the country, any country being Jamaican. I tell you, Paula it’s like the best thing in the world, because everybody know Bob Marley, everybody know Usain Bolt ,everybody know Chris Taylor, everybody know about Marcus Garvey everybody knows reggae music and you just may become like a little celebrity. I mean, I’ve just had some experiences of being Jamaican and being a celebrity, just because I am a Jamaican that I love. So I feel very blessed that you know what, that the Canadian passport gets me passed the border, they welcome me and then I can be Jamaican.
[00:09:56] Paula: You’re a wise woman. So, wow, I like that, being in the borders of the countries you want to be, you’re the celebrity.
[00:10:12] Marguerite: Well, I remember a little story. I went to, my brother, myself and his family, we went to the Rio Olympics in 2016, that was when Usain bolt was at his height .Oh my gosh, let me tell you, people were stopping us, of course, we’re all decked out in our Jamaican colors. People were stopping us, wanting to take pictures of us , just because were are Jamaican, right?
[00:10:40] Paula: I like that, you know for some people they may even try and find some distant relations, so you know, he’s my uncle ,first cousins, you know?
[00:10:51] Marguerite: So, but you know, as I just relate to that little story and we’re laughing. But there’s a lesson here for us immigrant women, which is. When we come to a new country, especially, you know, one not Americally established diaspora. We are told or we feel the, we need to assimilate. But I think it’s very important to remain and stay true to who we are and the culture that we grew up with. And to not hide that light under a bushel, to be proud of being Jamaican, proud of being Nigerian, proud of being Grenadian, Trinidadian, whatever it is, Ghanaian, whatever it is when we come over here. Because there is a lot that we do have to be proud about and so yes, we do have to walk a fine line of, you know, kind of playing by their rules. But at times, we need to remember who we are and because that’s grounding and we know that we have tough moments, I mean, I laugh t some tough moments when I moved here to Canada. So, you know, and what kept me going, my three dogs and Bob Marley.
[00:12:12] Paula: I like that perspective, three dogs and Bob Marley that could be a song
[00:12:20] Marguerite: You know, you have a good point there, you know. Because what would happen, I would be going out, I would be job hunting, get no, because I have no Canadian experience. Yeah, I’m like, okay. I have a Harvard MBA, really? That’s nice you konw. And there’s always this thing in the back of your head. Oh my gosh, is it because I’m black? Is it because I am a woman, is it because I am over 50, probably is all three of those, right. But you can’t let those beat you down, you know? And so I would come in at the end of the day, just feeling so dejected. My three little dogs would greet me at the door and they’re like, so happy to see me. And no matter what happened, they love me. And then I go for a walk and we’d sing Bob Marley, don’t worry about the thing. And I was fine.
[00:13:12] Paula: So, yeah. So that’s something I wanted to ask you about, your transition to Canada, because you went there with your three dogs, your two children?
[00:13:21] Marguerite: Two. Yeah.
[00:13:22] Paula: Two children.
[00:13:23] Marguerite: Two of three, my eldest lives in Trinidad.
[00:13:26] Paula: Okay, okay. So two of your three children. Armed with your Harvard MBA. Man, you were prepared for the world and yet they were like, all right tell me about that?
[00:13:39] Marguerite: Well, I was fortunate when I got here that I did get start teaching at Ryerson university in the global management program, and that was great. But that was not full time, that was sessionals. So I was an add on lecturer. So that was in no way enough to keep me going. So I started to job hunt and, you know, sending out resumes and so on. And Paula it was as if, it was as if Harvard MBA meant nothing, honestly. It was as if it meant nothing. And I got all the excuses and, well let me not say I got all the excuses. I got silence, which I think is probably worse than excuses. You know, you apply and your application is not knowledge or you just get, you know, goes to file 30. And I’m not overhyping the Harvard MBA, but I had also in my career, worked for projects, the world bank, the Inter-American development bank and the Canadian Institute for development. I had done work on a project contracted by one of the big consulting firms here in Canada. So it wasn’t as if I was in Jamaica, like doing only work for Jamaica. And yet nothing, nothing stuck, nothing was coming. So you can imagine the whole I was feeling, you know, you kind of getting the advice, well, maybe you should take Harvard business school off of your resume. And I’m like, what, I worked hard for that.
[00:15:24] Paula: Absolutely.
[00:15:25] Marguerite: And why should I take it off of my resume you know? But, you know, you need to live right? Anyways. So it was really getting to me and everyone who was ever migrated will understand this. Because I think it’s just the universal immigrant story. You are accepted into this country, especially if you come on the, in Canada, what’s called the federal skilled worker program. You are actually accepted because of your qualifications and you come here and you know. I have met so many PHDs and doctors as someone driving Uber, you know, waiting tables. It’s sad because it’s such a waste of brain power, mind power, resources. So these countries that accept us, thank you, we’re very grateful. But they waste a lot of what we bring by not recognizing it. Anyway, anyway, whatever. So the turning point for me was, I was in this, I had gone to this interview. This was my third interview with one of the big banks here. And I was not really interested in that job. I did not think it was a good fit for me, I didn’t think I was qualified for it. But you know, you can, one thing HBS teaches you is how to BS, so I could you know, convince them. And I was meeting with this woman and she was asking me the most, you know, the stupid interviewing questions, like tell me about yourself and that kind of nonsense. Honestly Paula, I get, people laugh when I say this. Honestly, I had an outer body experience honestly, I swear. Because I was sitting there in this interview with this woman and yet, and I was answering her questions and I saw myself from a distance. I look down, and I am some, I am there talking and being interviewed, but there’s another me that’s out there saying, Marguerite, you don’t want this job, you don’t want to work for this woman. What are you doing here? And I finished the interview, but in that moment, something shifted massively for me. Thanked her, walked out of the office, I said, this is no more interviewing. Going back to what I’ve always done, going back to consulting, facilitation, coaching, whatever, my own business. So that was a Wednesday in November. So I walked out of the office, jumped on the subway, I was like, “woo” happy life anything. By the time I got home, subway ride a bubble of 45 minutes I knew what the plan was, start the business so on. Anyway, the next day, my son, who was visiting, my eldest son, visiting from Trinidad. So we went out that day and spent the whole day out with friends, I didn’t have, I didn’t check my email. Why should I check my email right? And,
[00:18:36] Marguerite: afterall. right. you are done.
[00:18:38] Marguerite: And Paula I come back home and I checked my email. And would you believe that there is an email from a client of mine in Jamaica who I had worked with before I migrated. And he says, “Hi, Marguerite, would you be available to come to Jamaica in January to facilitate our strategy retreats?”
[00:19:05] Paula: Wow.
[00:19:06] Marguerite: Wow.
[00:19:07] Paula: Talk about perfect timing.
[00:19:10] Marguerite: It talks about when you get clear on what you want. Like the whole universe conspires to give it to you, like within 24 hours. And so since then I have had my own business and I coach and what I call a joy coach. So I coach senior executives about leading, working, living with joy. I facilitate their strategy with their leadership teams and help them to execute their strategy by supporting them in developing a culture that’s conducive and supportive of the strategy. And it’s wonderful, I’m doing what I want to do. Yeah.
[00:19:55] Paula: You are doing what you want to do when you want to do it with who you want to do it.
[00:20:00] Marguerite: That’s right.
[00:20:00] Paula: In other words, you are internationally employed. Your clientele for what I’m gathering are not necessarily in Canada, they’re in different parts of the world?
[00:20:10] Marguerite: That’s correct. So most are in the Caribbean, all over the Caribbean. Some in, a few in Canada, some in the US, and one or two in the UK. So I do, I like to focus on what I call caribbean people in the diaspora and Caribbean hearted people. What do I mean by Caribbean hearted people? These are people who may not have been born in the Caribbean, but just feel an affinity to our Caribbeanness.
[00:20:41] Paula: I Like that phrase, Caribbean hearted, is that what you said ?
[00:20:44] Marguerite: Hearted .Yes.
[00:20:46] Paula: I like it, I like it, I like it. Wow, that is so inspiring though. Hearing from you, you know. The day you got clarity was the day things changed for you. So I always ask my clients. Oh my clients, you’re not a client. But I always ask my guests if they consider themselves successes? And just hearing that yours, I’m answering the question for you. Yes, you are a success.
[00:21:14] Marguerite: You know, that’s a funny question tho. There are a lot of people who are successful, who do not consider themselves successes. In fact, I coach a lot of them. I will be like, look at your resume, look at it, look at all these things you’ve done. “Oh yeah, but I don’t consider myself a success and there’s always more.” Well, so yeah, they’re my clients. But I do consider myself a success. Why? Because I’m living life on my terms. And that’s a lesson there, that you live life on your terms. Now, let me bring it back to the ladies listening on this podcast, the immigrant women. You know, this took time, right? And, you know, as we say in Jamaica, I had to suck salt before I, to get to this point. But because I was clear on certain things, my values and who I was and what I was willing to negotiate or not negotiate on. Even when i was going through the hard times, I knew that those hard times would not last forever. And I think that’s so important, because it is a tough, tough road, settling into new countries. Especially if you have children, it’s tough. But you have to keep, know that this will not last forever. This too shall pass. Very important.
[00:22:43] Paula: This too shall pass. Yes. And you know, these are the things that make you resilient. These are the things that toughen you up, these are the things that, sometimes you have to go through things so that you get the clarity. Because when you have nothing to compare, like if everything has been easy, then you wouldn’t even know when an opportunity comes because there’s nothing to compare it with. When things have been easy and been tough, you remember those tough times and it’s easy to say, okay, this is what I want. I love that. I love that. And that’s a thread I’m hearing from a lot of immigrant women that, you know, you gotta know what you want. You may not always know what you want, but when you start seeing what you want, go for it, knowing that it’s not going to be easy, but go for it.
[00:23:28] Marguerite: And it will take time.
[00:23:30] Paula: It will take time. Yep. Yep. Yep. So true. All right. So, I’ve loved everything I’ve heard from you, but maybe there’s something more you want to tell my audience that you’re like, Paula, please ask me this.
[00:23:46] Marguerite: Like, where do I see myself in five years, say?
[00:23:52] Paula: On the beach, I’m sure you’re going to say.
[00:23:56] Marguerite: Well, absolutely. Well, you know that, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I think the pandemic has caused people to really step back and reexamine their lives and come to terms with what’s really important to them. So, I absolutely intend to continue on this path of joy and helping people to feel joyful in life. I was just writing something for someone today, and I stopped to reflect because I wrote something. What I wrote is that I love to travel. I am an adventure traveler. So, you know, I climb Mount Kilimanjaro and I go trekking in the Himalayas, and that kind of thing right. Well, I haven’t even seen an airplane since March, 2020. But what I did I have been doing over the past 18 months is the inner journey. So I have been traveling within. I became a mindfulness meditation teacher. I coach people around meditation and I really am interested and fascinated by how we can bring more mindfulness into the way we work. We spend a lot of time on work, and a lot of it is toxic and painful and so on. Well, so what I’m doing now is incorporating, just incorporating some of the precepts of mindfulness. Being present, being kind in the work that I do, in coaching my clients, in helping them to chat strategy and with their culture. And so, this is where I’m moving and I’m loving to see how it is working out. But five years time, that’s where I think I will be on a beach, I’m doing retreats, or something, whatever who knows.
[00:26:12] Paula: Something that gives you joy, and something that gives you revenue at the same time, how about that?
[00:26:18] Marguerite: Yeah, that would be nice too. And I think that is what is so fun about being an immigrant, is that you’re not tied down by the fact that you grew up here and everybody knows you. There’s a certain freedom of starting your life over, unencumbered by the having grown up in a certain society with those norms. So yes, I’m Canadian citizen, but I’m not Canadian in terms of all the strictures that being born and grown Canadian would have. So there’s a certain sense of freedom. And I think that as immigrants, no matter how long we’re here for, we should embrace that. And just say, woo there’s something new and exciting. In fact, I will tell you something, Paula, I know more about Canada. I’ve visited more places in Canada than most Canadians.
[00:27:13] Paula: I’m sure you have, because the fact that you immigrated there looking for something new. I mean, that means you came to see something new and it’s imperative that you find it. In terms of not just work, but you know, enjoy whatever else is there.
[00:27:29] Marguerite: That’s right. Yep.
[00:27:30] Paula: I love it. I love it. And so, believe it or not, we’ve come to the end of this awesome interview, I can’t believe this.
[00:27:39] Marguerite: No, Paula don’t go. So I,
[00:27:41] Paula: You do have something esle.
[00:27:43] Marguerite: So i’d love for your listeners to accept my gift of joy. It is a guide to creating a compelling vision for your life. And it really was born out of how I live my life, which is through visioning. I am always, you know, I have a vision for my life, vision for my relationships, whatever. It’s something I do with my coaching clients, they all have to do a vision for their life. And so I created this guide, it’s a gift and I would absolutely love if your listeners tap into it, download it and actually do it. In the Jamaica national Anthem, there’s a line that says, give us vision lest we perish. It’s so important that we have a vision for our lives. And especially, let me come back to people who are immigrants, no matter how new or old we come here, we must always have that clear vision for our lives.
[00:28:53] Paula: Well said. I think you’ve summarize it pretty good. Have that clear vision for your life. The fact that you left your country and came to another country. If you don’t have vision, you will perish. That’s the truth. Wow. Marguerite I have really enjoyed having you as a guest on chatting with the experts. Something that a lot of our listeners don’t know is that this is the second time around doing this. The first time was good, the second time is even better.
[00:29:26] Marguerite: Well, that’s the other thing, Paula, the second time around, you know, I think it’s a lesson for both of us, which is that stuff is gonna happen, but so what. We just move along and do it over and it has been twice the joy doing it the second time.
[00:29:45] Paula: It’s certainly has, it certainly has. So for my listeners, if you just heard what Marguerite Orane said and you have enjoyed it, which I know you will, please head over to apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, o anywher you listen to podcasts and click subscribe. If you are an immigrant woman from Africa or the Caribbean and have found the story and all the other stories interesting, please let us know in your reviews. And if you’d like to be a guest on my show, “Chatting with The Experts”, and you are an immigrant woman from Africa, the Caribbean, please reach out to me on my website “chattingwiththeexperts.com”/ contact us to apply. As usual, this has been incredibly excitingly if there’s a word like that. Yeah, I’m making it up. I just lovely. I just enjoy it, I enjoy all my guests and I enjoyed you, Marguerite. Thank you again.
[00:30:47] Marguerite: Thank you Paula,thank you listeners. It has been a joy.