Wednesday, May 14, 2008

freedom to drive

I have to give a hip hip and hooray for the fact that my spouse got her drivers license YESTERDAY!

This may seem like a very small and insignificant thing to some of you, but if you are an immigrant to a new country you may be able to appreciate some of the hardships of getting all the legal paperwork you need to be a "functioning" adult in your new country.

We have been here in Canada now for 4.5 years. We love Canada. We are grateful Canada recognizes us as a legitimate family. Having said all of those very nice things about Canada, the immigration process is a nightmare and the process of getting any legal paperwork is equally a nightmare. Adding fuel to the fire, when we left the USA my spouses drivers license had just expired. She went and got a new one and had the temporary one and we were waiting for the new one to come in the mail, only we left before it arrived. This left us in somewhat of a quandry - being without photo id in our new location. She was unable to get a new license here until she had her landed immigrant card and that took the better part of four years. When her landed immigrant card arrived we let out a whoop and headed straight for registry to get her DL. Well of course her temporary license doesn't count as a legitimate one. So we have to get something sent from the USA.

Let me just express two SMALL parts of the frustration of dealing with Canadian and US authorities at the same time for the same problem.

Number 1: The USA has an authority called a "notary public". A notary public is an officer who can administer oaths, witness and authenticate documents, and perform certain other acts. This person in the USA has a notary public stamp which evidences that they have witnessed the signature or whatever it is that you need witnessed. In Canada, notary publics do NOT have these stamps. So when the US wants something notarized, in Canada you cannot perform what it is that they require...... short translation = PROBLEM.

Number 2: Canadians and Americans date things differently. Depending on where you are from, 05/11/08 could be either May 11th or November 5th. This caused us a problem when my spouse had to be out of the country for re-entry and according the USA (who issued the paperwork) they meant November and according to Canada (where we had to "enter") the date in May had already passed. Wouldn't it be so simple to just WRITE the first the letters of the month on all paperwork? Anyway, I digress.

We have been going back and forth to registries, to notaries, to post offices and all over the place and yesterday we FINALLY got the new CANADIAN driver's license. It took over an hour and at some point we had worked with all three ladies who work in the registries. Once, they even said we didn't have all that we needed and were going to turn us away, but I think they took pity on us and our VERY LARGE stack of documentation and we got what we went in for (not without paying of course!)

I need to give a shout out to my spouse who has gone too too long without being able to drive. It is an incredible sacrifice to be "trapped" without a car - especially in a place where it is impossible to live without driving LONG distances. Congratulations my love.

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