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Leaving Home and Coming to Canada

An Exotic and Far Away Place - Yella and Mooshie Zahirovich

Time 2:31


Yella Zahirovich (YZ): We know about Montreal mostly because of the Olympics and, I didn’t know much.

Mooshie Zahirovich (MZ): I did. I, I, geography was my, uh, good subject, and it’s—I knew what I need to know. But to me it was really exotic, you know. Canada —we had from one village—there was a man who immigrate to Canada in ’60s, and then he would come and we would all go around him to touch and to see what kind of man is that to go to that far away place? I had idea where I was coming, though in my mind it was exotic place.

YZ: So, we, I think you applied sometime in July, and then in September we got an answer that we are selected. And they tell you—Okay. So most of people we know—so you know people talk among, and then you know a lot—most of the people we know, they were all going on the government sponsorship, which meant government brings you, they give you an apartment—it’s like give you welfare, and you live on a welfare for a year, they send you to school to learn the language, and then, I guess you are on your own. So we were told, okay, you are going to Stewiacke, Nova Scotia, and you’ll be sponsored by a family. So it was something really new, nobody could tell you what it is. At that time we didn’t have Internet, there was no computer, nothing. And then Mooshie was in, in Canadian embassy in Belgrade, and they had this huge map on the wall, and he was looking for Stewiacke. He couldn’t find it. He was thinking, God, where is that? Where are going? But then, so they, in September I think we got our date of leaving. It was on my birthday, on February 28, ’94. So we had a couple of months to prepare, and then we call our cousins and—“So what do we do? How it is? What—is there anything we should bring?” And they said, “Well, you know, bring a lot of bed sheets because they’re all plastic here!” So I went like crazy buying bed sheets. When we got them here they didn’t even fit this bed. Oh, god! And then they told us the dentist is expensive, you have to do all your dentistry work—

MZ: Fix your teeth before you come to Canada.

YZ: Before you come. So we had two or three months to get ready with everything and, and then, that was it. It was hard to leave.

Oral History 14.03.06YMZ with Yella and Mooshie Zahirovich
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21