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St. Thomas,ON






Originally from Vietnam, Justin first arrived in Canada in 2018 to study as an international student. After living in Toronto and Mississauga, Justin moved to St. Thomas in 2021 and currently works as a restaurant manager.

My workplace is my ‘second home’... I have a sense of ownership … The people at work are my ‘second family'.


This image depicts my home close to downtown St. Thomas. This home is owned by my brother-in-law which makes me feel a sense of support when living in a small city. Coming back from work each and every day, having a place to come home makes me feel at peace and a sense of settlement despite it’s shared with six other people. In the next few years, I hope to sponsor my wife to Canada. I do dream that we would move to a better area and into my dream home.

What used to be a Tim Hortons is now Mr. and Mrs. Bao, a restaurant where I work. I was one of the first staff hired at this place. As an Asian fusion, the signature is the Bao (bun) and soft taco. It is a 1-minute drive from home. I feel that my workplace is my ‘second home’ as the restaurant owner and coworkers are nice. I am the supervisor at the restaurant and I have a sense of ownership given my role. I feel that the people at work are my ‘second family.’

Many of the customers are local residents of St. Thomas. People always asked me what the food was about. This food is new for people in the city and when people try it, they love it and give good reviews. I feel happy when customers enjoy the food and say ‘thank you’ for coming and opening in St. Thomas. The owners did their own decorations especially with the Japanese gate and tiles which represent Asian culture.

The restaurant that I work at is across from City Hall. In Vietnam, I worked in marketing, in an office. Now I am working more labor type of jobs. I get to see many customers are people from the office, and it reminds me of my previous career in Vietnam.

The Holy Angel Church in St. Thomas is near to the place that I work. I go there often, about weekly. I met a Vietnamese person there last week and I said ‘Xin Chao’, or ‘Hello’ in Vietnamese. There is a small Vietnamese community here and otherwise I would go to London to see others.

I want to improve my English, and also learn new skills. At the YWCA, I can ask for assistance and get help with what I need. I feel welcomed to see that the government supports newcomer residents and to see that we have this center.

I went here to buy an engagement ring for my wife. I was also able to build a connection with the owner who is also from Vietnam. This whole plaza (nails, drug store) is Vietnamese. I am very excited about that and I have built a connection with the owners of B&L Jewelers. To see the success of the jewelry store owners, this makes me feel inspired to see success in the city.

Living in a smaller city, there are not many things to do. When I see that they are building more places near Walmart, I believe that I will have more restaurants and shopping options to choose from. It will be the first Starbucks in St. Thomas and I would usually drive to London just to go there. Seeing that they are building this makes me feel that I was right to choose this city to live in. I am excited and I can’t wait to see the buildings as they are being built.

Before I came to St. Thomas, I thought it would be terrible in terms of stores and shopping, but then I realized that it’s not bad at all. The shopping center has a lot of stores (e.g., Walmart, Superstore, Winners) which make life better and easier. I work a second job as a courier for Instacart. Having many stores also allows me to have opportunities to deliver groceries for customers. However, I sometimes find that there are not enough of my cultural ingredients available at the stores.

Public transit in St. Thomas is very different when compared to Toronto. Having a small shuttle bus and less public transportation is part of the experience here. Personally, I don’t use public transportation but when my parents visit without a vehicle, that would make it difficult for them to move around. There are no public transportation options to London, aside from taxis and Uber

Galaxy Cinema at the Elgin Centre

I grew up in Ho Chi Minh City, where it was always busy. Moving to St. Thomas, everything runs at a slower pace which makes me feel at peace but sometimes I feel that the city can be boring. During my free time, I like to go to the Galaxy Cinema at Elgin Center. Here is a place to get connected with the world and to talk about movies with my friends. I watch movies there but also to buy clothes, use the gym and services. It is a very quiet mall and not many visitors.

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