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HUMANS OF SARNIA: Ochanya Amaka Elvis


The Sarnia Journal has partnered with local photographer Art Connolly to feature his captivating “Humans of Sarnia” series as he delves into the lives and experiences of everyday people in Sarnia. Follow his series on Instagram and Facebook

I had the pleasure of meeting Ochanya Amaka Elvis, a recent transplant to Sarnia with an inspiring story. Ochanya, along with her husband and four children, relocated from Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She's currently pursuing a two-year Business Management (Human Resources) course at Lambton College, holding a Masters degree in Communications Studies from Nigeria, and bringing a decade of banking experience with her.

Our conversation shed light on the stark differences between her hometown and Sarnia. Port Harcourt, as Nigeria's capital city, is a bustling metropolis with a population of approximately 3.5 million people, known as a major industrial and oil-refining center in Nigeria.

Ochanya and her husband made the decision to move to Canada, aiming for a better life for their children. They explored other options such as the UK and the USA but felt that Canada's values were more in line with their own. Canada's world-renowned education system for children played a significant role in their choice.

Despite having only been in Sarnia for a month at the time of our conversation, Ochanya's children are already adapting well and looking forward to experiencing snow for the first time, a prospect that she finds amusing.

I inquired about her impressions of Sarnia and its residents since their arrival. Ochanya was deeply touched by the generosity of the local community. Arriving at their unfurnished rental house in the dead of night, they spent their first night sleeping on the floor. However, after reaching out for help online, they were pleasantly surprised by how swiftly people came to their aid, donating furniture and offering assistance. The support from the Sarnia community provided a comforting welcome.

One notable difference Ochanya mentioned was the widespread use of credit in Canada, a contrast to Nigeria's "saving culture," where people primarily use cash and save before making purchases. She's been pleasantly surprised by the friendliness and willingness to help others she's encountered in Sarnia.

Both Ochanya and her husband, who was an on-air radio personality in Nigeria, are presently seeking employment in Sarnia. They hope to find opportunities soon, not just for income but also to build new connections and friendships. While the process of starting a new life in Canada can be intimidating, Ochanya is confident that she and her family will adapt and that Canada will provide the better life they desire for their children.

Welcome to Sarnia, Ochanya, and thank you for sharing your journey with us.

“Humans of Sarnia” founder Art Connolly is a man fuelled by curiosity and a passion for connecting with people in Sarnia. Inspired by the renowned “Humans of New York” series, with a camera in hand, he captures the very essence of the individuals he encounters, preserving their stories through his lens.

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