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My Suitcase

Time 0:03:44


Last summer, I visited the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. I saw many immigrants’ suitcases and settlement stories - both positive and negative. I told my husband that it would be nice to donate my suitcase and my story. I left everything at home, like the immigrants who came before us, just like them, I came with bare minimum, and just like them, I struggled to achieve my dreams.

I arrived in Saskatoon, Canada on September 9, 1976 with one suitcase, an undergraduate degree, my proficiency in English language from Orissa – a province which is considered one of poorest in India – $6.00 in my pocket, and my dream to be a “professional” like my father.

I had started my Master’s in India. But I knew we were moving away. I was going to come as a foreign student’s spouse – and I knew this would limit me legally to do many things. I didn’t know what the future was holding for me. But I also wanted to be with my husband.

We were supposed to go home after finishing our education, but something within me knew we were settling in Canada. If I wanted to raise my family here, I wanted to learn about Canadian culture and how to integrate. I thought sociology was the field that would teach me about Canadian society.

The next year, I enrolled in the University of Saskatchewan, but after 6 weeks, I had to withdraw because our little Sheila was arriving. For the next 12 years, I had lots of breaks in my education – because of a second child, taking care of my family, financial strain and building up my Canadian work experience.

After my husband found a job in Lethbridge, Alberta, I said “now it’s time for me to complete my dream.” Over the next 15 years, I worked at the University to pay my own tuition, and I finished my undergrad, Master’s, and PHD. It took me from 1976 until 2004 to complete my dream of education. I am still working towards my dream job. Something is telling me it’s there – it’s coming – Nina, don’t give up.

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