As I shared last time, there were many stressful situations with NZ immigration, with tight deadlines and getting information sent to London while there was a postal strike in Canada. But somehow, we persevered and overcame, and we received permanent residency.

As we enjoyed our last Canadian summer, we prepared for our journey with our family. At this stage, Laurel was 5, Violet 3, and Owen had just had his first birthday. At the time, you could still travel internationally with two pieces of luggage, so we packed our entire lives in 10 bags. Our packing list included strollers, car seats, some essential toys and books – essentially, we were trying to spend our full-year living as simply as possible.

Our life in Edmonton was happy, and from the outside, we had everything one could hope for. We had jobs that we both found value in, and we had a lake property we built ourselves. Laurel was in French-immersion school (this we felt was important in Canada since it’s officially bilingual), Violet was about to start pre-school, and Owen was our happy baby.

Through all this time, I attended classes at Yogalife Studios. I mainly attended the 9:30 pm classes as this allowed me the freedom to be at home with my family and then attend yoga when everyone else was going or already in bed. It worked out well, and the studio had a combination of class styles between yin yoga and vinyasa yoga, so it was always fresh and new for me.

I loved this time that I could devote myself to yoga. I loved the heated classes because I enjoyed the challenge it produced in the body and the mind.

There was still no indication in life that I would ever think of becoming a yoga teacher. I was happy maintaining my fitness at the fire station and through my regular yoga practice at the studio or with DVDs at the fire station.

Finally, we had everything arranged, and we eagerly awaited our trip to New Zealand. We were all excited about the new life we were going to have for a year and getting to live by the ocean in Tutukaka. You see, Edmonton has a river that runs through it and a lot of lakes surrounding the area, but it is 1291km from the ocean. So, the thought of being able to walk to the ocean, for the first time in our lives was exciting.

We were not afraid of travelling with the kids on the long flight either, as we had travelled with the kids to New Zealand previously and knew it would be a long flight.

As we said good-bye to Edmonton and flew to Vancouver, it was exciting for the kids. They were running all over the Vancouver departure lounge, and since we had a long flight, we let them go crazy.

Our flight was as you would expect with three kids, five and under; Sonya and I emerged from the plane as zombies, while the kids had slept a significant portion of the flight. When we arrived in Auckland, it was warm, and we walked through all the educational parts of the airport with a sense of awe and excitement. The last six months had been stressful, we had worked so hard to achieve this goal, and finally, we were in New Zealand.

The Whangarei fire station arranged for a van to pick us up and transport all our luggage to Tutukaka, and there was a smiling friend, Scott, there to drive us to our new home. It was exciting as the rugby world cup was on, and you could feel the excitement and energy.

Not being rugby enthusiasts, we found it all quite curious. Still, it was fun to see people excited about the event, and I was even able to score last-minute tickets and go with a friend to the 3rd place game between Wales and Australia at Eden Park.

We had arrived, our adventure was here, and we thought things would be pretty sweet.

There were, however, some different things to experience at my new job in Whangarei. The New Zealand Fire Service career staff were on strike when I arrived. I had never been involved in industrial action before, so this was a new experience.

In my job with Edmonton Fire, there hadn’t been labour tension since the late 90s, and the department was a world leader in Fire and Management relations.

Another massive difference was Edmonton Fire had around 1000 career staff in one city, whereas all of New Zealand had about 1600 career staff in the whole country.

This discrepancy blew my mind.

Another massive difference is we went to every call in Whangarei with eight firefighters, whereas in Edmonton, we always had significantly more resources for the 27 fire stations in the city. In Whangarei, you had us eight and then support from the surrounding volunteer brigades. It was the first time I worked with volunteer firefighters as all firefighters in Edmonton were career staff.

So, I tried my best to fit in, learn some of the different ways the New Zealand Fire Service did things and be a respected member of the brigade. Station life in Whangarei was different, yet it was also strangely familiar, as the same type of person worldwide is drawn to this career. Despite cultural differences and minor changes in equipment, it’s essentially the same job everywhere: put wet stuff on red stuff.

I asked the guys where the nearest yoga studio was since I was ready to get back into doing my regular practice while working and living in Northland. I didn’t anticipate the blank stares I got from the Whangarei firefighters when I asked where the “yoga scene” was or who would join me in doing yoga. What they must have thought of me when I brought this up, it’s pretty comical, as even in 2021, men in New Zealand still shy away from yoga. I looked around, and there weren’t any yoga studios that resembled anything like I had practiced in Canada. No wonder they had all looked at me so puzzled.

Next time, I’ll get into how I started my journey to becoming a yoga teacher. This teaching journey began at the Whangarei Fire Station, of all places, and would be a massive catalyst in my life.

Read Yogafire Origins – Part 1 – My Journey Begins here.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 2 – My First Yoga Class here. 
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 3 – Firefighters doing Yoga here.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 4 – The Odyssey Begins here.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 5 – The Immigration Quagmire here.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 6 – Almost Arrested and Other Obstacles here.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 8 – Our New Life in New Zealand here. 

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