Nomaqhawe (Noma) Sibanda
Misconceptions about Winnipeg and Manitoba
I’m a bit of a nerd so I started to research Winnipeg—I thought I was moving to Winnipeg, let me note, my parents did not clarify that I was moving to Steinbach. (laughs) For some time they kept referring to it as Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Winnipeg ,so, and I would have gone to university as well, to the University of Winnipeg and I thought, “Ok, you know maybe I’ll start, maybe I’ll do a masters there or something or do another BA or whatever.” And so I started researching neighbourhoods and I remember liking St. Boniface, “Oh well I want to learn French. So oh maybe I should move to St. Boniface, it’ll make it easier because that’s what people they speak the language on a regular basis so when I go to the store I’m immersed in the language.” And you know when you read the web sites for communities it is a marketing piece (laughs). So it was sold to me a little differently (laughs). And I liked the cosmopolitan feel from the website of Winnipeg and that you had people from all over the world, and at any given time as you stroll down the streets, down Portage Avenue you can hear Italian, or Amharic or you know Tagalog and “Oh, oh this is perfect for Noma.” Living in this multi-cultural society. “Oh this absolutely makes sense, I should be moving to this city.” And looking, again where I wanted to live and things I could do and really trying to be positive and that’s also how I am you know, “Okay this is the situation and these are the cards you’ve been dealt.” Where is the silver lining sometimes or just change your frame of mind and there are so many things to experience now in this new place so, I quickly moved to, “Okay, well I’m not moving to Italy but look where I’m going guys.” (laughs) And, then I read something about Portage, no Main—the intersection at Main and Portage competing with Russia as the coldest spot in the world, and I thought, Hold on a second. (laughs) “I don’t like the sound of that.” Because I was bragging to people, my last winter in 2004 in Colorado “I don’t have to deal with snow again, unless I’m vacationing in a ski resort. So unless I’m skiing I don’t need to worry about snow. I’m throwing away my scrapers.” (laughs) Yeah, I moved to Winnipeg. Minus forty. So, yeah.
Nomaqhawe (Noma) Sibanda was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in 1981. Noma’s parents had been part of the freedom movement in Zimbabwe. The election of President Robert Mugabe made it too dangerous for them to stay in the country and the family moved to Denver, Colorado in 1985.
The Sibanda family did not have status in the United States despite being able to live, work and study in the country. The family was denied permanent residency after trying for many years because the United States determined that it was safe for them to return to Zimbabwe.
Noma’s parents and brothers immigrated to Steinbach, Manitoba as refugees in 2002, where her father found work as a history professor at the University of Winnipeg and her mother began working for a pharmaceutical company. Noma stayed in Colorado to finish her undergraduate degree. However, once she finished her degree she had to leave the United States.
Noma joined her family in Manitoba in October 2005 and found a job as a legal assistant in Winnipeg. Noma currently lives in Winnipeg and works in the fundraising sector.