Caroline is now a ‘Permanent Resident’ of Canada
We never know where life’s journey may take us.
© Clayton Hunt photo
Life’s journey can take one on many adventures and unexpected journeys. Caroline Banfield, (nee, Elsley) grew up in Portsmouth, England but finds herself living in Harbour Breton today with her husband, Eddie, who she first met in the mid 1990s.
Eddie was stationed in Portsmouth on a Canadian naval vessel. A chance meeting at a local pub in 1996 led all the way to the couple being married in Newfoundland in 2012 and living in Harbour Breton today.
Caroline Banfield (nee, Elsley) grew up in Portsmouth in southern England, a city of about 750,000 people and about an hours ride from London by car.
She probably thought she would spend all her life in her home country with family and friends.
But fate can intervene in our lives and cause unexpected events to happen.
In 1996 Eddie Banfield from Harbour Breton was stationed in Portsmouth on a Canadian naval vessel. While out on the town one night with some of his shipmates, Eddie met Caroline who was working, in her off-hours, at the cloakroom at a local pub.
The two met, became friends and continued to see each other while Eddie was in Portsmouth. Both were in their early 30s at this stage in their lives.
However, Eddie had to leave Portsmouth soon after and the two separated probably thinking they might never see each other again.
Eddie was stationed back in Halifax, Nova Scotia while Caroline went on with her life in Portsmouth.
And then, in 2004, a friend told Caroline about a Facebook program where a person could post their picture on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to buy it.
Caroline picks up the story.
“I did as my friend suggested and put my picture up on Facebook to see what might happen. It just so happened that Eddie, who was in Halifax at the time, saw my picture, got in contact with me and we continued communicating back and forth from that point.”
In 2008 Eddie invited Caroline to visit his family in Harbour Breton, as it was a Come Home Year. She accepted the invitation, came to Newfoundland with Eddie, feel in love with the community and Eddie’s family who made her feel very welcome.
The Come Home Year activities were held in August and in October of the same year Caroline decided to ‘take the plunge’ and come to live with Eddie in Newfoundland. She has been in Harbour Breton since that time.
In 2012 the couple decided to make their relationship official as they married, bought a house in the community and settled in as husband and wife.
“I fell in love with the community, the people, all of whom treated me with friendship and respect, and I was quite content to be here with Eddie.”
Although things were going good for the couple, Caroline, who had married a Canadian citizen, was not a Canadian citizen and she still had to keep her passport updated.
Not having Canadian citizen status or a permanent resident card, she could not work in Canada, could not go to school here, had no health insurance and could not leave the country.
“I was literally tied to the house,” she said, “as I could not work. So, in 2010 I started the process of applying for my permanent Canadian resident status that involved a lot of activity and patience.
“After filling out numerous forms, seeing doctors and immigration officials in St. John’s and having criminal background checks sent over from England, I finally received my Permanent Resident status on October 2, 2013.
“It took about three yeas to receive my Permanent Resident status but it was well worth it. I can now work in Canada, I have a Canadian social insurance card and my MCP card as well.”
To keep her Permanent Resident status all Caroline has to do is to stay in Canada for at least two of the next five years. She can reapply for the status again in 2018.
One of the best points about being a Permant Resident is that Caroline can now leave the country.
She and Eddie plan to visit her family in Portsmouth in May of this year. She is looking forward to seeing her Mom, one brother and two sisters and her two sons she had in a previous relationship. She also has a three-year-old grandchild with another one on the way this February.
“I just love it here. I have a job now and the ladies at the Lions Dart League are very friendly. As a matter of fact, my son, Lee, who came over to give me away at my wedding also fell in love with Newfoundland and wants to come here to live.”
Caroline still has her British citizenship and said that her managers at the adult mental health institution she worked at always say that she can come back to work there whenever she wants.
However, she plans to stay on in Newfoundland for the foreseeable future and may apply for Canadian Citizenship at some point in the future. The one big advantage that being a Canadian citizen would bring is that she could then vote in elections.
“We’ll see how it all goes,” she said. “Right now life is good, and I’m not too worried about that. Right now we’re concentrating on planning our trip back to England in May. It’s been over three years since I’ve been back, and I’m really looking forward to seeing my family again.”