Celebrating multiculturalism and diversity in the community, 14 multicultural champions were selected to be featured and have their stories shared in the Penticton Western News on a monthly basis in partnership with the South Okanagan Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership Council, South Okanagna Immigrant and Community Services and Respect Network.
Daniela Lojkova came to Canada from Prague, Czech Republic in 2010 with the intention of studying English for one year. Nine months later her husband came over — they got permanent residency — had a baby and started two new businesses.
“Everything just fell into place,” explains Lojkova. “Quite a lot of progress for immigrants who could barely speak English.”
When they first arrived in Penticton in 2012, their first stop was a coffee shop on Marina Way. They fell in love with that place and the view. Low and behold, the owner of the coffee shop announced her intention to sell. Michal Gjurisic worked as a manager in the restaurant industry and was co-owner of a restaurant back in Prague. So, starting his own café was a perfect fit — and thus, the Prague Café was born.
“We offer European styled food and service at our café. It’s fresh, healthy and free of preservatives. We also feature old style Czech recipes. The decor is European so when someone comes to our café they can escape to Europe with their imagination,” said Gjurisic.
Lojkova and Gjurisic are proud of the quality of product and service at their café but they are still open to ideas on how to improve it.
“If you ask Canadians about something they will tell you it’s good. They are too polite to offer criticism. But we welcome it,” said Lojkova.
Lojkova is a wellness and lifestyle coach by profession with a bachelor’s degree in sports, fitness and wellness. Lojkova offers her services in Penticton and in the spring 2017 released her first English book titled, Change Your Body, Mind and Life – Wellness and Fitness Guide.
“We see no reason to return to Prague now. We’re thinking of applying for Canadian citizenship. A lot has happened in our lives in a very short period. I love my job and Michal loves his. Everything we provide comes with love.”
Lojkova and Gjurisic feel that Canada offers endless career opportunities, unlike their homeland.
“In Prague, once you choose a career, you’re stuck in it forever. In Canada, you can change careers anytime and no one judges you,” said Lojkova. “We had a very high standard of living in Prague and made very good money. But in order to maintain that standard you have to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, keep up with the status quo and if you take a break, for even two weeks, it is difficult to catch up. Here, in Canada, it’s a more laid-back lifestyle. We can still earn a good salary here but there is also more time to spend with family.”
Speaking of family, Lojkova and Gjurisic will make another major contribution to Canada. They are expecting their second child shortly.
Lojkova and Gjurisic are extremely grateful to the staff at South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services for the help they provided.
“When we came to Penticton they helped us with English lessons, filing taxes, maternity leave and more. Every time we went there with a question, they answered them for us. They also provided childcare that allowed me to take English lessons. I really appreciate that,” said Lojkova.