Successful Venezuelan doctor in Canada. Identities

We are proud to see that we succeed in other languages, that we adapt to change, that we flourish wherever we are placed, that we integrate and that we make a difference.

Thank you Dr. Jacques for telling us about your extraordinary adventure in this new country.

With love,



many of you when you travel to Canada

they do it with their family and the question

most typical thing a dad does is this

decision I am making is the

My child has a better future

in Canada is that you will achieve your dreams

will be happy today I will show the

story to someone whose parents did

quite a few years they said Let's go to Canada

a Venezuelan who came to Canada from

very young and made a life in this country and

today is one of the few

Latino gynecologists in the United States.

city of Montreal, I am proud to

to introduce Dr. Jack Balaya this

his story, the idea of being a doctor is not

an idea that came to me when I had no

was a childhood dream let's say

that many physicians have in the process

adaptation was extremely difficult

the need to create a new

identity from where I do not even have my

friends and family members who had

left behind this my parents were

divorced a year after they

emigrated to Montreal Mira Venezuela never

is going to go away from me is a little gift like you

you say it will always stay with me

and that I hope never to lose

I am Dr. Jack Palila I am a physician

Venezuelan now living in

Montreal the situation in Venezuela

economic and social policy

speaking in the late 1990s

It was quite difficult and this

essentially made my parents

decided to move on to a new stage in

life with your family

and the question then arose as to

where we were going to go to look for a

better future and we saw different countries

where all the people of the community

were emigrating at the time and we

we realized that the process of

immigration was going to be quite long

but hey I have two aunts who were already living

here in Montreal Ah that essentially

helped us with the migration process

made the process much more efficient and

faster and much more automated

and then allowed us to

come to Montreal and we arrive in Montreal

then after the process like this

permanent resident Ah in the

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2002 the migratory process evidently

as many of your speakers do.

will know it is long there are interviews

there is, let's say, an evaluation

of your life history


Oh and of course my dad due to circumstances In

at the time, he was never able to finish his

his bachelor's degree was never able to finish the Y

had to start going out to work

essentially from a very young age then

of course it was someone who came up it was someone

that he did well in life Ah in a manner

but he was never able to finish the

Liceo was never able to get a diploma, let's say

could never prove that essentially

eh the value that he could bring to say to

the table existed Ah so to speak

concrete or legal And then eh le

essentially reported on immigration

whether he wanted to be a candidate or not.

I wanted to apply to be able to

to enter Canada needed to have the


eh má plus what they called the points in the

at the time, i.e. a note or a quotient

a little higher given the

difficult situation we were living in

Venezuela and really the desire to

to immigrate and to leave eh decided

then to pursue a passion that he

has always had but never had the

say the Ah made it more concrete that

is to become a chef in a cook himself

loved to cook and was a very good cook

In fact and eh was essentially done

a certificate in culinary arts

that lasted for a year and was essentially

this and of course with a diploma with with with with

concrete proof and this was the

which essentially allowed him to have a

note enough eh to the whole family

essentially to be able to immigrate for

here Ah and in fact it was in that that he

worked when he went to Canada.

that I was able to pursue his new passion

let's say in this new one in this new country

with a new


When I arrived I was still in the in the

at the Lyceum than in high school.

in the third year, which here is the one that

the ninth grade well eh How to still

I was at the Lyceum I was not arriving

directly to the university or to the

al cep eh la ley 101 que es la ley

essentially that the Quebec government

stipulates that all immigrants who

did not study in French their Lyceum have

to study his Lycée in French before

of being able to graduate applied to me

also as an immigrant.

to essentially go to a school in order to

learn the language to learn to

speak French in what is called a

Class Dey a welcome class

essentially for immigrants Ah that

essentially lasted one year and replaced a

year of high school instead of watching

mathematics and science and physics and

chemistry history and that sort of thing was

basically an intensive course of

French for one year Ah but that counted

essentially as third-year credits

year of high school and and I was able to

then move on to the following year to the

fourth year without loss

let's say time without jumping let's say a year

or have to be [ __ ] in my

studies as a result of which it was

there is a need to learn French and English

I was handling it a little bit evidently

because the American culture in

Latin America is quite present but

of course

this one I learned it much better Here I used it

every day Here literally in my

social life Ah so it was also part of

of the adaptation process learn No

French only, but also to

English in a more effective way.

and less so in an academic manner

as we did for example in the

English language courses in Venezuela

or when watching something on television

a type of

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the adaptation process was

extremely difficult for several reasons

reasons that are yes many typical of a

let's say a normal migratory process

where a culture is found

a brand-new, brand-new

completely new climate this one type

of a completely new person this and

Believe it or not, one of the things I've always wanted to do was to

that I

affected more I would say it is also

the need to create a new

identity of who I am let's say in a

new environment where I don't even have my

friends and family members who had

my culture and my culture and my

food and the weather that was

the environment, not to mention the

in which I was living Ah that was the

most difficult part for me and I think it's

something we share with many people

who migrate to new countries, of course

where you literally have to find

and develop

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in my case it was a little bit more

difficult also because in this situation

a disease of the

my mother who had breast cancer at that time.

time 6 months after arrival

to Montreal this year my parents were

divorced a year after they

immigrated to Montreal and of course then

I had to take on certain roles, let's say

family members who were probably

young enough to take Ah but not young enough to take Ah but not young enough to take Ah but not young enough to take Ah but not

I had one other alternative because

someone had to be there to

to help my mom to help my

sister to keep an eye on my dad


and obviously in parallel to a being

a new school with new people with

new friends So it was a process

quite difficult Ah quite atypical

I would say that of the process

migratory eh usual let's say of a lot of

people but not so atypical that it is somewhat

so unbelievable but are things of the

life that unfortunately passed to the

the same time as this change of life.

so so so

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intense my experience eh with the

medicine in Venezuela was quite

limited I had a pediatrician

essentially and thank God we have never

I had to use neither hospital services

nor did I ever have to be ill

Ah nor anything that necessarily needed

of long-term medical care and

thank God my family doesn't either

I didn't have much experience with

eh let's say the health care system in

Venezuela neither the idea of being a doctor

is not an idea that came to me when I

had was not a childhood dream

let's say that many doctors have eh

but they were if not circumstances of the

life that put me on the road let's say

of medicine when essentially

arriving in East Montreal my parents were

divorce and I'm basically left to assume

the role of a person who

cared for his mother who was ill

At that time And that's what I was taught

two things first of all it taught me

the fragility of life and the

important it is to be there for the

loved ones but it also taught me

the importance of the role of women in the

in the family nucleus and what is important

which is to have for example the

personification of women Let's say as

as a family leader eh always

and always in front and that is something that is

that Eh made me fall in love essentially

of what is women's health and the

care of women and that's why I am

I essentially became an obstetrician

gynecologist is to be able to promote

let's say the role of women in the family

and society is always trying to

this de de de de de de to grow the

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families in Canada you have two in

Quebec essentially because in Canada it is

a little different but in Quebec

you have two ways to enter medicine

once, i.e. all students in

Quebec baccalaureate graduates pay

al cep the seep is 2 years usually 2s

years, sometimes 3 years depending on the

program but it is usually 2 years and

then after the seep you enter

university once you have finished the

cep Oh, and if you want to enter to study

medicine at the university there are two ways

there is what is called the

preparatory of medicine that

essentially after the seep is a

year and then you enter

let's say to medical school

directly for 4 years or you do what

is called a bachelor's degree Okay a

let's say a 3-year university diploma

years after the 2-year cep and

then applied to medicine by the 4

years is a process that is quite

long eh In my case I took the route of

the preparatory pathway which is instead of 7

years are 5 years to finish your

medicine after those 5 years

after medical school

then go and get it done.

specialization in the career or in the

specialty that the doctor in my case

such as obstetrics and gynecology by

another will be an orthopedic surgeon by

another one will be a traumatologist or someone in the

emergency a psychiatrist etcetera every

one chooses what he or she likes best and

then you get into what you

calls the residence the residences are

depending on How many

Ah studies you want to do are a minimum

of 5 years for specialties such as

surgical surgery, such as obstetrics and

gynecology and then you can make a

sub-specialization means to say, "sub-specialization" or "sub-specialization".

you can over-specialize in say

something more specific Ah many people do

also a lot of research is being done

masters at the same time as the

ence Then the process of becoming

in medical eh lasts on average between 11 and

13 years in Quebec after having

out of the Lyceum

Ah, of course, they are very long years.

long nights are well-lived

very difficult times, you experience moments

also a lot of joy and a lot of and a lot of

much hope, let's say, in humanity

and in society as a whole

Ah It's a career

beautiful in many ways but of course it comes

with its difficulties because they are

with the things that one of the most important

precious in life that is health


eh long yes but worth the

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The process is quite secretive, but it is

I am sincere because you have to be part

of the committee to decide which criteria

used in a particular year for

determine who enters the school of

Medicine, but in general it is a

program is quite competitive

a minimum percentage of

candidates who are essentially

by applying

Ah because they essentially want to look for

always this ideal candidates that

may have many types of much

type of competences let's say in

different eh means then

Ah it's not easy but where there is fervor and

where you feel like it and where you want it

study and where one excels

the better I do the better the chances are

to enter and it is also

I already went to the university of

maguil for me for my school of

Medicine But there are four faculties of

Medicine also in Quebec at the time the

opportunities are evidently Not at all

more based on a single school and there are 16

Medical schools in Canada are also

So, the idea of being able to go to

study elsewhere in Canada for

example, this also happens a lot in medicine

because, of course, positions are limited and

sometimes if you want to follow your passion

has to end where the passion has it.

But eh la la to answer your

asks if it is not easy to get into

medicine, but if there are classes every

years because there are people who make it

then that you are an immigrant or that you are

Canadian or that you have certain

interests and not others as long as you give yourself

you stand out and you will be able to enter

without any

problem when I was in school

of medicine and cancer disease

my mom's unfortunately

progressed eh I was about to

and I obviously had to take some time off to graduate and I had to

enough time to be able to be at your

to be able to help her in the last

and the Faculty of

Medicine helped me a lot to be able to

to complete my work, and to organize myself in order to complete my

studies and to be there for my mommy

at the end of his life.

feeling of appreciation for

they were quite large and then uh

I decided in honor of my mother to create

a scholarship essentially for students

of medicine that are also living in the

in difficult times such as the one I was

living I At that time that

could potentially

impact the fact that they can

complete their studies.

completing the with that scholarship is done with that scholarship is done

nothing more than the recognition of the effort

that students are putting in place and

there is also a compensation

that also helps them to

those difficult moments in the case of

that they need are two students per

year, which means that we already have

11 years we go more or less 22 23

students who have benefited from the

The scholarship is essentially money for the

you need and I can tell you for

example, there are students who

used for in terms of

transportation because his parents live abroad

of the city and have to be paid

tickets every three weeks to go to

visiting to be there that helps him Ah

there are people, for example, who need

also pay someone who can help

to come and take care of him al al al al al al ser

dear one who is sick as well

needs a little more support in that area.

sometimes it serves only to

buying food sometimes serves no other purpose

to pause and say you know what

I'm going to the movies because I've had a

week or have a fairly difficult week or have

them the right to use the money as they see fit.

they want But the point is the

recognition of the effort that

are putting in place to help them to

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to be able to practice medicine in Quebec

in Spanish is something I never dreamed of but

here literally 70 percent of my

patients are Spanish-speaking.

I practice my medicine basically in

Spanish, but one of the things that

truth if it has greatly influenced my my my my my

my practice is the fact that I

I am also a patient I also have

health problems I have also experienced

difficult things in my life and I have

state, let's say on the other side of the

I've been on the other side of the

I have been on the other side of the operating room

Ah, and I've been in the waiting room.

experiences as a patient that have made me


I promised that I didn't want to essentially

my patients would live if I had something

what to say if I can, say, affect the

patient experience I will always

and one of the things that the company has

people do not necessarily realize

because of course medicine is always

associated with the technology

Science with innovation

Ah medicine more than all that

is humanity is communication is the

presence of the Physician eh towards the

patient with the patient is the

patient's possibility of de de de de

be able to open on four walls, let's say

with supreme confidentiality and without

no grief whatsoever and all with the

to improve your life or to improve

say, to any health problem

that have At that time eh It is for

that I essentially always try to

to treat my patients with con I would tell you

with him with that Latin touch let's say

which it also does because

culturally speaking eh same in

countries Not necessarily so warm

Let's say as in Latin America to

times there is indeed such a distance is

that each one lives in his or her own

and in my opinion I know that I can

that it is a very well-functioning society

Ah and for which I am very much in favor of

grateful don't believe me but there is

certain things I think that where

we could be more humane

say between one to the other and if

I can contribute a grain of

that humanity let's say in my practice

medical is a pleasure


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Mira Venezuela will never leave me

that's for sure

Ah The question is more whether Venezuela

today is the same Venezuela in which

that I experienced and probably in many

parts may be the case but probably

also in many parts of the world it is not

because Venezuela is more than just a country

is a culture is a state of mind

societal is an es

a is a community is a is a is a meal

particular is

a childhood memory that's what it is

what I long for the most is what fills me the most

Ah when I think of Venezuela and I have

of course, of course a little

of I don't know if it's fear of the ideal word

but it is eh sometimes difficult to believe

or to assume that if I were to come back

tomorrow that everything will be the same when

for example, I know that my parents are not

there I know that my relatives are no longer there

there my friends have already left

that the place where I grew up probably

is very different from the school to which

I also went to probably didn't go to the

would already recognize at this point and there is a

side of nostalgia and a side of

sadness but at the same time it is a

gift as you say that you always

will stay with me and that I hope never

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