Integrating into Canadian society has always been important to my family. For as long as I can remember, my parents have used every interaction they’ve had with Canadians as learning experiences to continuously refine our proud Canadian identity.
In the early 1970’s, my parents were studying in Sweden and falling in love – unaware of the political strife that was continuing to grow back home in Kampala, Uganda. Shortly after completing their education and returning home, they gathered their families and only the belongings they could carry to escape the escalating political persecution. They set out for a new life in a new country they knew nothing about. The open immigration offered by the Canadian government was like a warm welcoming mother’s embrace reassuring these refugees – “everything will be alright now”.
Uganda has become a place that we don’t talk about; it’s a place that represents their birth and early life but it’s almost as though it is a place that no longer exists – I think it ceased to exist for them when they left it because returning there would never be the same place they left. It was time to look forward and make Canada home.
Education and integration to Canadian culture were things that I remember being heavily emphasized in our home growing up – so much so, that my parents extended themselves to their limits to buy a house in a primarily Canadian-born community with the best schools. English was the primary language spoken in our home but our faith and culture were also given priority and they always found ways to integrate them into our lives – balance was the always the key.
I’m proud to have a rich cultural history that Canada embraces. This was the opportunity, the dream that Canada provided.