Journey into an Exciting New Career in Canada

These Three Newcomers Journeyed into Careers in Tourism

Moving to a new country can be nerve-racking—especially when searching for a job. But for these three newcomers to the prairie city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, a career in tourism offered an exciting future full of enriching experiences and meaningful connections.

Butter Tarts and Fresh Starts

Like many others during the pandemic, Hanna Tokar picked up a new hobby to stay busy: baking. But her newfound passion has provided more than just entertainment—it’s become the key to rediscovering joy and finding purpose after being forced to leave her home.

Hanna was born in the south of Ukraine in the city of Kherson. When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Hanna sought refuge in Canada—alone, without friends or family to keep her company. She arrived in Winnipeg, Manitoba on an icy cold December day, nervous to begin her new life.

Knowing she wanted to continue pursuing her passion, she wrote a Facebook post asking for advice on finding employment as a baker. She attached photos of her creations, which quickly caught the attention of locals—including Michelle Wierda, owner of The Butter Tart Lady.

Michelle contacted Hanna, inviting her to interview for a position at her bakery. Hanna’s creative ideas and attention to detail compelled Michelle to offer her the position of head baker.

“I was really happy because when I saw Michelle, my boss, for the first time, I thought, ‘This is going to be my second family here,'” says Hanna.

Butter tarts are a classic Canadian pastry with a crumbly shell and sugary filling, sometimes with walnuts, pecans, or raisins. Now that Hanna has joined the team, The Butter Tart Lady offers a dazzling assortment of traditional Ukrainian and Canadian treats—plus Hanna’s own innovative recipes.

“It’s a creative job. You can make something; you can add something from yourself. It’s not like strict rules in baking. You can do experiments. That’s what I really love in baking,” says Hanna.

Now, Hanna is preparing for a busy summer of farmer’s markets, baking beautifully decorated cakes, colourful macarons, Ukrainian babka in savoury and sweet flavours, and of course— butter tarts.

The circumstances that brought Hanna to Canada were devastating, but finding a fulfilling career in tourism has renewed her hope and brightened the road ahead.

“It makes me feel that I’m alive again, so I can do something—not just sitting at home and crying all the time and thinking that I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss my previous life. I can start a new life again.”

Getting to Know Canada

Liza Cuellar had a fulfilling career as an engineer in the Philippines, but in 2010, she moved to Canada so her children would have better educational opportunities. To work as an engineer in Canada, she’d need to complete additional courses—so, she sent out her resume, hoping to find a new job as she prepared to return to school.

One of the first places to contact Liza was The Fort Garry Hotel—a beautiful, luxurious heritage building offering accommodations in downtown Winnipeg. After a successful interview, they invited her to start work the next day in the gift shop.

For several years, Liza enjoyed the change of pace she experienced in her new role. Working in engineering often left her sitting at a desk for long hours, but at the gift shop, she was walking around, interacting with guests, surrounded by beautiful things. Although she considered herself to be a shy person, she was surprised to find that she loved the social aspect of her new job.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, the gift shop was forced to close—but Liza’s managers at the hotel presented her with an exciting new opportunity: working as a front desk agent. At first, she was hesitant to begin a career so different from her previous jobs, but Liza soon discovered what made her a perfect fit for the position: her cheerful personality.

“When you’re working at the front desk, you need to be approachable. We are the face of the hotel because everyone that comes, they always go to the front desk right away,” says Liza.

Working in accommodations offered Liza more than just a paycheque—it allowed her to connect with new people and learn all about Canadian culture. Now, she has found a career she loves and has no intention of leaving.

“I don’t aspire for another job anymore. I’m happy working right now!”

Discovering Destinations and Following New Paths

Sandeep Singh was born and raised in the United Arab Emirates and moved to Canada with his family at 16 years old. When Instagram first launched, it sparked his interest in capturing and sharing images with his camera phone—particularly, images of landscapes.

During college, his friends encouraged him to invest in a better camera, and his photography started capturing the attention of local brands.

Suddenly, Sandeep wasn’t just a photography hobbyist—he was a tourism influencer.

“I would go to get the perfect image, but then I would realize that these are also the places that people can visit by themselves,” says Sandeep.

Sandeep continued creating content showcasing destinations throughout his home province, Manitoba, and branching into videography on TikTok, Instagram reels, and even a short film. He hadn’t planned on following the path of a social media influencer, but he loves the experience of inspiring people to discover all Manitoba has to offer. He especially loves showcasing lesser- known destinations throughout the province, in hopes that it will inspire other newcomers to get outside, connect with nature, and explore.

“If a newcomer to Canada sees my content, I hope it sparks curiosity in them. Sometimes it’s just kids sending it to their parents, like, ‘Oh, there’s a turbaned guy going to this placewe should go too!’

With over 18,000 TikTok followers, 10,000 Instagram followers, and plenty of paid partnerships coming in, Sandeep’s sense of wonder and passion for discovery have paved the way for incredible opportunities in tourism. It’s the perfect side-hustle, offering a creative outlet and a sense of adventure as he continues his post-secondary education.

“If you want to explore your unlimited potential, tourism can take you there.”