Visitors' Voices: The Canada: Day 1 Luggage Tags

As part of our travelling Canada: Day 1 exhibit, we asked visitors to share their thoughts on immigration to Canada by writing on luggage tags. These personal stories, messages for new Canadians and inspired packing lists are a selection from the hundreds of contributions. Read and keep the conversation going.


Decorative brown piece of paper with Syrian and Canadian flags and an official Canadian symbol. He describes very beautifully how Canada helped them when they arrived from Syria.

What message would you leave for a new Canadian?

I give thanks for Canada because Canada helped me and family to start life again and also thanks to everyone who helped the Syrian people to stop bloodshed. I hope with all my heart to live in Canada lasting peace and getting stronger ever time.
Mohammad October 13, 2016

Brown paper with beautiful cursive handwriting of a young person, telling a heart-warming immigration story of moving to Canada from Romania in 1988.

Share Your Immigration Story

My father fled Romania in 1988 while my mother was pregnant with me. He was captured in Yugoslavia and spent time in prison there before being accepted as a refugee in Canada. It was two years before my mother, older sister and I were all able to join him. My family chose Calgary because they had Romanian friends in the city. The adjustment was difficult for them having to leave behind their friends, family, good jobs and the sense of security that comes from being surrounded by people who understood their native language and shared a culture with them. I am in awe of their bravery, positivity and resilience. Even though my father’s engineering degree was not recognized in Canada, he was able to prove his aptitude as an elevator repairman and work his way up. My sister and I have both gone to school, gotten married and made lives for ourselves here in Canada. I am so grateful for the sacrifices my parents made to bring us here!

Brown paper with touching story written in pencil.

Share Your Immigration Story

I came to Canada 4 months ago: when arrived to Canada I was scared. Specialy when I heard about the snow, but now I found is nice & comfortable Country. I am happy to live in Canada.
JW Edmonton, AB


Stephen Cheng’s message written with pencil on brown paper

What message would you leave for a new Canadian?

Bring your open spirit, love of life and tolerance of all peoples. Share your culture, history and story to enrich Canadian fabric and society.
Stephen Cheng, Toronto via Montreal and Taiwan, Halifax, NS

Matt Evans’ message for new Canadians clearly written in points on brown paper.

What message would you leave for a new Canadian?

It is okay to cry. Missing home is normal. You’re a very strong individual. Remember that change doesn’t happen over night.
Matt Evans Halifax, NS

One person’s advice for new Canadian written with pencil on brown paper and at the end that person made a heart shape.

What message would you leave for a new Canadian?

My advice would be…Stay warm in the winter. Stop in at a Tim Hortons. Try moose meat at least once. And keep smiling.


Young person’s handwriting on brown paper, written with pencil.

Share Your Immigration Story

My grandparents immigrated to Canada in ’56 from Hungary. It was during the Hungarian Revolution, and the fled with the clothes on their backs. They built a family here with many happy times.

Brown paper, with the story of a 5-year-old child written in pencil.

Share Your Immigration Story

I came to Canada from Brazil when I was 5 years old. I remember I had to leave all my xmas gifts and friends behind in Rio. It was very hard. Also, we arrived in winter and found it hard to breath the cold air. I had to teach myself how to inhale short breaths to be able to take in the cold!

Story of black Jamaican - Canadian written on brown tag with pencil.

Share Your Immigration Story

I am a black Jamaican – Canadian. I had a Teacher’s diploma & a B.A. from a Canadian university. An immigration officer in Toronto told me to seek a job as a domestic, as I would never get one as a teacher. I laughed at him. I did work happily in my profession for 32 years.

I have 3 medals for community contributions, plus numerous awards. Thanks, Canada. P.S. I arrived in 1965.

Moose Jaw

A brown tag with beautiful handwriting in pen.

Share Your Immigration Story

I was 15 when my parents and closest brother crossed the border on a hot, sunny August day at North Portal, Saskatchewan. We were landed immigrants, Americans from Wisconson. I’m not sure I thought I was staying in Canada. We were no strangers to being expatriots, and in 1972, I had spent most of my life outside of the U.S.A. After four years back in the States, Moving to Canada was another adventure. It was all so clean and Fresh in my mind. So much the same, but different never the less. By 1979 I was a Canadian, what a good decision.

A beautiful message written on brown paper from Destiny Bercier Moose.

If you had to leave your country, what would you bring? Why?

I would bring my family because they mean a lot to me.
Destiny Bercier Moose Jaw, SK

Message from a Somalian person written on brown paper with pencil. He drew a smiley face at the end.

Share Your Immigration Story

I came to Canada 2013. I lived in Regina. I am happy to visit in Moose Jaw Museum. There are a lot of interesting histories, I’m glad to know that. I am proud to live in Canada I am from Somalia


Brown tag paper with a beautiful positive message written when the woman moved with her husband.

If you had to leave your country, what would you bring? Why?

I would bring my husband and a positive attitude. That’s all that’s needed to start new anywhere… maybe I’d bring my camping gear, too…

Brown tag paper with a written description of the travel journey of Jean Booth.

Share Your Immigration Story

My husband, 2 small daughters 7 & 4 arrived from London U.K. on May 24 weekend on the SS Statendaam at Pier 21, Halifax. Crowds of immigrants being processed, long train journey to Toronto. Arrived 7 am. No Jobs, NOWHERE TO LIVE, NO PROSPECTS. Didn’t know anyone. This was 1966. We lived in a hot attic room at the rundown FORD HOTEL in Toronto, and my husband immediately went job hunting (I wanted to go back). Eventually settled in London, ONTARIO where we thrived and raised our girls in a great City. Made lots of friends, worked hard, joined in everything Canada had to offer. We moved to B.C. (Parksville) 18 yrs. ago. My husband passed away 4 yrs. ago, but I’m still here. Made lots of trips back to England, but this is “HOME.” Thank you Canada
Jean Booth

Brown Tag paper with beautiful handwriting in pencil.

Share Your Immigration Story

We immigrated to Canada about a year ago and our first impression of the Canadians was how friendly and welcoming they treated us! Canada is such a great country and we are glad being part of it. Laura & Jan

Red Deer

Brown tag paper with message written in pencil, and a picture of a heart drawn after the message.

Share Your Immigration Story

My parents immigrated from Poland and Ukraine I was so lucky to be born in Canada

Brown Tag paper written by Laura with a pencil. She also drew a small flower after her name.

If you had to leave your country, what would you bring? Why?

I would bring my family album, learn more about my country so I can share with my new Canadian Family

Brown tag paper written with pencil by Alberta.

Share Your Immigration Story

I moved to Canada when I was two years old. We came from the Netherlands - the memories I have are sitting in the airport in Toronto and refusing to move, and the mud in our new home in Fox Creek, Alberta


A message written by Roxy on brown paper with pencil.

Share Your Immigration Story

When my father escaped to Canada during WWII, his 9 year old sister became lost. The situation was dire and they could not turn back to look for her. All they could do was cry and pray that a kind family would help her.

Two weeks later, a man who was asking them to share their meagre food told them of a young girl in the yard with newspaper wrapped around her shoes. It was my dad’s sister. Needless to say, all were joyful to share supper that night…and many since.

Immigration story written on brown paper.

Share Your Immigration Story

My mother came from Czechslovakia. They were running from Hitler because they were gypsies. I love Canada

Message written by young person with beautiful handwriting on brown paper. At the end of the note that person wrote HaHaHa, that person is very happy.

Share Your Immigration Story

I moved to Canada when I was 16 (2010) It was hard at first, but people here are nice. I am now Canadian citizen. Thank ü Canada. HaHaHa...