Celebrating 10 Years, and 1 Life-Changing Opportunity
Welcoming, attentive, diligent – Jennifer Evangelista embodies the qualities of an exceptional host. Whether she’s at work as a Host and Server, or caring for her family home in Banff, she takes great joy in making sure everyone is looked after.
In October 2017, Jennifer celebrated her 10-year work anniversary at Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa – and she says her job has changed her life.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Jennifer was happily caring for her young family, when her husband unexpectedly passed away in early 2007. But as a stay-at-home-mom of two young sons under five, not only did she have to grieve the loss of her husband – she needed to find a way to earn enough income to support her family by herself.
When a relative who had moved to Canada suggested Jennifer did the same, it was a daunting idea – but the higher wages overseas would allow her to earn enough for her family.
In 2007, she accepted her role at Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa through an international employment agency. While she was immensely grateful, her joy was bittersweet. Securing a job made her eligible for temporary residency under the law, but only for herself – so she would have to leave her sons in the Philippines, in the care of her parents. But no amount of distance would stop Jennifer from caring for her family.
Before she knew it, Jennifer was settling into a new life in Canada, in late 2007. Her dream was to earn enough money to support her family and, eventually, to secure permanent residency so her sons could join her in Banff.
For the next eight years, Jennifer chatted with her sons over Skype each morning, and sent money home from every paycheck – funding her sister’s university education at the same time.
Working as a Shuttle Bus Driver during her first two years at Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa, Jennifer quickly established herself as a pillar of the team. Taking on additional work in-house, as a Dishwasher and Kitchenhand at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar, she soon progressed to full-time Cook, then front-of-house Host.
Then in 2015, her years of commitment paid off: she was granted Canadian permanent residency, and her sons joined her in Banff, at long last.
“My dream was to be with my kids. It is the most wonderful thing to be together again, after so many years apart,” she said.
In 2017, Jennifer marked another exciting milestone: 10 years of working at Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa. And how did she celebrate? By sharing her success with others, of course.
“I bought my mum a beautiful dress and necklace and sent them back home. I was so grateful to her for looking after my kids for eight years. I wanted to thank her for all she did for us.”
Jennifer says the best parts of her role at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar at the Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa are the strong connections she has made with her coworkers – sharing traditions, languages, stories, friendship and learning new skills together.
“We have great managers and it’s a very happy team. Everyone is helping. When you can hear everyone singing, it makes your day and lifts your spirits high. Many coworkers have become close friends, and they have become like family to me,” Jennifer says.
“I enjoy meeting visitors and coworkers from all around the world. It feels good to present the restaurant nicely, give our best smiles and make sure the guests have a happy experience. Sometimes returning guests will recognise you and give you a hug, which is so nice.”
Today, the family are enjoying their new life together, and Jennifer remarried in 2011. Her eldest son has now graduated from high school and is working in Banff, while her youngest is a current student. During the school holidays, he works for Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa as a Shuttle Bus Driver – the same job that started it all for Jennifer.
“I owe a lot to the company. I didn’t know how to cook before I came to Canada, and I have learned while working here. And I was really shy when I arrived, but now I have been able to improve my English at work,” Jennifer says.
“I treasure that they are the ones who opened the door for these opportunities for my family. You learn new skills, you work hard, and they take care of you. It’s a very friendly place, and I love being a part of the team.”
Want to join colleagues like Jennifer as part of our friendly team? Find out more about career opportunities with Banff Lodging Co. properties, such as Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa, here.
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Banff Lodging Co. is an employee owned and operated company with accommodations, restaurants, spas, and retail/rental shop all located in Banff National Park