One-way ticket to Canada: Kelise Williams helps others adjust to life in a foreign country

Using her experiences a Canadian immigrant, Kelise Williams created Settle Successful Services to help other immigrants, and has written an e-manual for those planning to migrate. -
Using her experiences a Canadian immigrant, Kelise Williams created Settle Successful Services to help other immigrants, and has written an e-manual for those planning to migrate. -

Three years ago, the promise of a new life in a foreign country propelled Kelise Williams and her family to move to Canada.

The two-year application process would eventually take her, her husband, and their two children – ages one and three – to Alberta.

With no family or friends in the country, Williams, born and raised in Morvant, and her young family left the familiar behind and landed in the Canadian province in May 2019. They headed for a nearby hotel where they had made a booking for their first night.

“We had to take public transport from the airport to the hotel,” she told WMN.

Reminiscing on that night, Williams, 33, said the hotel did not want to take them in although they had a booking because they did not have a credit card and they were unable to pay in cash.

At 3 am, she said, she started to cry and her first night in her new home was off to a rocky start.

However, the memory of that night did not deter her or her family. The couple found help from a church who came together and gifted them furniture free of charge which they used in their first apartment.

Kelise Williams helps make the transition to a new country a little easier. -

Williams landed in the country as a permanent resident.

“There are over 80 streams of immigration,” she said. "I came through the federal skills worker through express entry.”

She said it did not take long for her to find work and within three months of landing, she was working at mid-level management.

“Within 22 months, we bought our first home.”

She said there were still many moments of tears during her first year in the country but the family also had just as many wins.

“It proved to be a good decision in the long run. I have nothing negative to say looking back but at the point in time, I was stressed.”

After enduring such a trying transitional period, Williams decided to post her experiences as an immigrant on YouTube.

“People reached out to say, ‘Hey. I’ll be in your city,’ and I met with them. I did that for (nearly) two years. It wasn’t a business or anything. I did it to make connections.”

She said her first pick-up was a month after her family landed when she herself was still new to the experience. She also volunteered to help refugees entering the country where she also connected with people who found themselves in a foreign land.

It was through these volunteering efforts that Williams decided she could make a business model out of it.

“I decided it would probably be good to start a business catering to Caribbean people settling in Canada.”

In June 2021, she registered her business, Settle Successful Services, and became a full-time entrepreneur. The business consists of a three-man team, including Williams’s husband and brother.

The logo for Settle Successful Services. -

“Canada is huge. People underestimate that. We live in Edmonton. I wanted to create a space where if you’re landing in Toronto, you’d find people in Toronto who can help you.”

Williams has clients from Jamaica, Barbados, St Vincent, St Lucia, the Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago.

“The thing they like is that I am familiar with their culture. I realise that there is a huge trust factor. I wanted to bridge the gap in finding immigration consultants.”

Williams said she herself made the move because she wanted more opportunities and a safe space to raise her children.

“I had all these business ideas,” she said, adding she wanted more opportunities for herself as well.

She said she wanted to create a company that helped other immigrants look past the hassle of migration. The company provides airport pickup, document acquisition, accommodation acquisition, furniture pickup and moving transportation, and city tours.

In addition to the settlement services the company provides, Williams has also penned an 80-page manual e-book for those planning to migrate. The book, she said, is an immigration journal and workbook called The Waiting, and compiles the experiences of other immigrants.

Williams has also founded a private community called The Village where people from the Caribbean can connect with others who have already landed in Canada for support.

Kelise Williams has also created a private community, The Village, Caribbean people can connect with others who have already landed in Canada for support. -

She said the business has not been without its challenges.

“Every client I get presents a new challenge. One of my clients, a single mother of two, made the move and her luggage was lost in transit," she said. The luggage contained all of the woman’s immigration documents, including her work permit.

“She landed in Edmonton with no legal papers.”

Fortunately, Williams said she was able to replace the documents, but it took a while. She said she had another client who landed in Canada and stayed with family for two weeks before she and her children were put out.

“She had nowhere to go and limited money. She took a bus with her two kids to Edmonton (to me) and I was able to get an apartment, job and school in one week.”

Williams said she feels very proud of her clients.

“They are doing big things. My first clients are purchasing houses. Most are in management positions. I look at them and feel so proud that I was actually a part of their journey.”

One client, Tamika De Gannes, who arrived in Canada in August, shared how Williams gave her the warmest welcome with "an impromptu rhythm section" to help make the experience easier to deal with.

"As a newly landed immigrant there is a lot to learn of this new culture – how to apply for jobs, how to stand out as a new immigrant applying for jobs, how to save for a car, mortgage, how to build credit. I had so much to learn and Kelise gave me impeccable direction through her consultancy and her book, The Waiting,” De Gannes said in a message to WMN.

Williams hopes to turn the business into a cooperative and will be launching an app in February 2022. The app, she said, is geared toward helping immigrants successfully navigate their experience and helping Caribbean people to connect with each other in Canada.

“When you’re abroad and you hear that accent, it’s exciting. The app will bring Caribbean people together and help them navigate that experience with dignity and without anxiety.”

Williams said she is not an immigration consultant, but offers referrals to consultants she trusts.

“I don’t like giving immigration advice because it is a regulated industry. A lot of people are sceptical because there is a lot of fraud.”

She said 2021 marked a record year for immigration in Canada with over 400,000 immigrants settling in the country. “(Canada) is on track to match or beat that moving forward in 2022.” She said the country is very pro-immigration.

“The economy is reliant on immigrants because they have a decreasing ageing population.”

Williams said she offers potential clients who are considering making the move three pieces of advice.

The first, don’t tell anyone. “It can be discouraging. Everybody knows somebody who failed.”

The second, known your timelines. “Get an idea of what you are qualified for. Stick to the timeline.”

Thirdly, Williams said clients should start planning for their new lives.

“Focus on those things more than fears around the move.”

She said she also feels clients should step out on their own as soon as they land.

“We didn’t have friends and family here. At first I thought it was terrible but now I see it as a blessing."


"One-way ticket to Canada: Kelise Williams helps others adjust to life in a foreign country"

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