A smile flashes across Jorel Aguiluz’s face. Vernon is home, he says, and he and his wife can’t wait to start a family here.
Warm light illuminates Aguiluz’s office at Community Futures North Okanagan. It’s a sunny afternoon in the late Okanagan summer, and it’s the couple’s favourite time of year to explore the Valley and vineyards they love.
But if you had asked Aguiluz about his plans for the future a year ago, his answer might have been quite different. Aguiluz, a technical account executive at SysGen Solutions Group with more than 10 years of experience in IT, had reached a crossroads.
After studying at Okanagan College in Kelowna and working in construction, he had landed a good job at SysGen – a managed IT services provider that also offers solutions in network administration and design, virtualization, IT infrastructure, cloud computing and data management. But, with only a post-graduation work permit in his name, his wife was still stuck in the Philippines.
“I heard about the RNIP (Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot) program through my client, Community Futures North Okanagan. They asked me if I wanted to apply, but I didn’t accept their offer at first,” says Aguiluz. “My wife had been applying for work and tourist permits, but we couldn’t get her here.”
So, in November 2020, after more than a year of working in IT in the Okanagan, Aguiluz made the difficult decision to leave his new home behind and return to the Philippines. But, by May 2021, Aguiluz knew he wanted to bring his family back to Canada. And this time, he had the right avenue to do it.
After submitting the RNIP paperwork in June 2021, Aguiluz received authorization from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in September 2021. And his wife came with him.
Sitting in his SysGen office at Community Futures North Okanagan more than a year after getting approved by the IRCC, and six months after the couple got permanent residency status, Aguiluz is finally at ease.
“It feels so much better. I can work and do anything I want to now,” Aguiluz beams. “We can stay here. We’re not worried anymore.”
For Aguiluz, that means continuing to work at SysGen and using his decade of experience in IT to help non-profits, entrepreneurs and local organizations of all sizes strengthen their business with managed IT services.
“Clients who had worked with Jorel previously were very happy to have him back and new clients love his very personable approach to IT support,” says Ben Mihailescu, field services manager, SysGen.
“Jorel is as genuine as they come and gets along with everyone he meets. We really appreciate him as an employee because he can connect with our clients in the Okanagan and solve complex technology problems in plain language for everyone to understand.”
When he isn’t using his love of tech to help fill the growing demand for IT workers in Canada, Aguiluz and his wife love enjoying the Okanagan lifestyle.
“It’s really nice here with all the vineyards, the beautiful nature and lakes. And we have several outdoor activities we like during the summer. Sometimes we go biking or go to wineries, but my wife loves apple picking, cherry picking and any sort of fruit picking,” Aguiluz says.
As the couple settles down and enjoys life in the Okanagan, Aguiluz says they plan on applying for citizenship and are trying to save up to buy their first house so they can grow their family.
But, before that, Aguiluz says they have one more goal they want to achieve.
“We’re planning on bringing my sister and my parents here, even just as tourists, so they can see how beautiful the Okanagan is,” Aguiluz smiles.
The RNIP is made possible through B.C. and Canada government funding.
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