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Leaving Home and Coming to Canada

Leaving Uganda: “My Whole Life in 1972” - Umeeda Switlo

Time 1:12

Transcript:

Hi, my name is Umeeda Switlo. When I left Uganda my name was Umeeda Umedaly. I brought this suitcase with me so that you could share with me this time, almost forty years ago, over forty years ago, that I left Uganda. And it says Umeeda Umedaly and, and uh, where it was I was going, to Oregon, before I came to Canada. This is it. This is where my whole life was in 1972. And I also found with me this identification certificate from Uganda. And it says that, where I lived and my immigration file number and that I was a Uganda citizen. So it certifies I’m a Ugandan citizen, but within a few days, I was stateless. I also found with me, the blouse that I had leaving Uganda. Imagine that. After all these years, this funky, cool blouse from the sixties. I mean, early seventies. A very, very special time in my life.

Oral History 14.02.21USLU with Umeeda Switlo
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

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Intermediate Countries and the Separation of Family
- Richard Tshimanga

Time 3:17

Transcript:

(This audio is only available in French; the transcript has been translated from French.)

I stayed in Switzerland. I appealed and the appeal was always pending this time. The appeal was always pending, my family ended up here. That is: my wife, my daughter, they got to Canada. How did they get to Canada? When I left my, well, my country, I left my wife with my two children. I have two children, a son and a daughter. And since I was already wanted in my country, I left in a hurry and my wife stayed with the children. She always got bothered by the police, and the summons, to reveal where I was hiding, where I could be found, where I was, you know. They wanted to know where I was. With all that pressure, my wife had to move with my daughter, because at the time, my son was sick. They, they move to another country, looking for protection. It was Zimbabwe. Once there, they asked for protection, they were safe in Zimbabwe. They were recognized as refugees so they were refugees in Zimbabwe. They? they left my country. I left my country in 2004 and they? they left in 2007. And they sought asylum, they asked for asylum in Zimbabwe and they immediately got recognized as refugees. After that, with the resettlement program, it's? Canada brought them to this side. The Canadian government recovered them with the program, I don't know how the refugee program works. They got? they got to this side. And I was still in Switzerland. But I was in contact with my family. I was in contact. And I kept going on with my appeal in Switzerland. After that, since I had a good network in? relations in Switzerland., I stayed and I liked Zurich. And I started procedures so my family could come over to join me. I tried but it didn't work. One of the reasons was that I did not have permanent? permanent residency in Switzerland. So, since I didn't have permanent residency, I wasn't yet officially recognized as a refugee, and I couldn't officially bring my family over.

Oral History 12.06.06RT with Richard Tshimanga
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21


Salzburg with Aunt Olga and Uncle Joseph - Peter Duschinsky

Time 1:50

Transcript:

Yeah, so, I left. I was with uh, my Aunt Olga and my Uncle Joseph in Austria. Austria was quite amazing. I’ve never seen, I have never seen anything like that. We lived uh, we went to Salzburg, which is a beautiful city in the Alps, just a beautiful, beautiful place. It is that to this day, everybody knows about it. But remember, this was after the war and Budapest was grey and full of uh, full of ruins. And, of course in the Revolution, the ruins were all over, you know—dead animals in the streets uh, wires etcetera hanging down. And there, there we were in this this paradise, this amazing place. Beautiful mountains, neon lights, uh, everything you wanted. We stayed there for a while. I, I just, I loved it, I must say. That, that sort of walking around uh, with my Uncle Joseph, whom really I learned to know then, and who I consider to this day to be an absolutely wonderful man. A very simply man. A real—real peasant, for lack of—he came from a farming family—a very, sort of, very simply man. Shoemaker by occupation.

Oral History 15.12.01PD with Peter Duschinsky
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

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Empress of Britain - Peter Duschinsky

Time 6:33

Transcript:

But we used to walk around the the, the hills of Salzburg. We used to watch the skiers, it was really great. And then uh, we got the okay to go to Canada, very rapidly, because, and I hadn’t mentioned this before, the third sister Boezsi [Elizabeth]—Remember there was Olga, there was my godmother in Budapest—but the third sister, by this time, was living in Montreal. They had left with her husband as one of the last that would get out of Hungary before the controls by the Communists were clamped down and they had managed to come to Canada. They, basically, they got the okay. That’s the only way they could get out to go to Israel. But her husband never wanted to go to Israel and stayed in Vienna while she—she had no choice—went to Israel for a few months. She didn’t like it, she hated it. She just, you know, it was hot and it was, it was just strange. And uh her husband managed to arrange—I don’t know how he did it, who knows? Paying somebody off? I don’t know how he did it—but managed to arrange to get to Canada and he went to Canada. She joined him. And so, by that time, they were living in Montreal for about four years. And so, when we got out, of course, one of the things that was taken into consideration is whether you have family in Canada, and we were able to say that, “Yes, we do.” And uh they made them sign some papers in Montreal. And so, our, our onward transportation was arranged very rapidly. Like, we got to uh Austria—I think it was December sixteenth—and by February twenty-first, we were in Montreal. So, you know, we basically, it was Salzburg. Nice time. You’re in this hotel in Salzburg. The papers came through. We have medical exams. We went to Vienna. We spent a night at uh, the uh southern—the Südbahnhof —the southern railroad station in Vienna. We took the train across Europe to Ostend in Netherlands and it was a truly glorious journey. It shows you how politics really works. In the Cold War, my God every station in Austria and Germany, they had banners out: “Welcome Freedom Fighters! Freedom will be Victorious!” All sorts of good stuff. And we got to Belgium and we got on the boat to Ostend. We went over to Dover. In Dover it was suddenly, everything was strange. I’ll never forget that, that as long as you were on the continent, everything was still quite familiar and, I mean, it was German around and I heard German in my childhood very often. And, you know, by the time I left Austria, I say that I didn’t but I probably must have spoken some German because then when we went back to Germany, I literally learned German in two months. You know, to do—to a level that, after two months, I could go to university. So, like, that doesn’t happen. I mean, I know I’m a relatively good linguist but that’s—It must have been in my head. So uh on the continent, everything was still, I don’t know, kind of what to us, seemed normal. But then, once we were in England, suddenly everything was totally strange. Strange trains where you kind of—Instead of going in on the side, they had these little doors all along. I don’t know if you remember those trains in England. But, dun dun dun dun dun. A language that was total total—n—n—n—not a syllable was was familiar. Like, even the way of speaking was totally different. The way people looked and dressed and everything was different. So, I mean, I realized that I was really totally abroad once I hit Dover. And then, on the ship—we came over on the Empress of Britain. And the Empress of Britain, which is, was, quite a nice fancy CP ship. Half the people on the ship were people who paid for the passage. So they were well-dressed, dressed for dinner, you know, a beautiful dining room. And half of us were ordinary refugees. And I, I mean, everybody was just sort of—we didn’t know where—what to do or where we were. Like, your, they made us sit down in the dining room and, of course, there were all these eating implements kind of one knife, two knives, three knives, one for—and nobody had any idea what the heck all these things were for. And we were, somehow, the average Hungarian of the post-Second World War period was not exposed to eight knives and, and an under plate and a soup plate. That just wasn’t the case. You basically, you know, in the orphanage, I remember very well: we had the one plate and one spoon. And whatever you ate, you: in there, you ate that, and the other course: in there, you ate that. So here we were on this ship—it was very strange. And it was North Atlantic. It was middle of the winter. Very stormy crossing. And sort of—there was another Hungarian boy of my age and we wandered around the ship and looked at the sea and, we were both—I remember being very excited, but also very, very guilty. Just totally—I’m betraying everything. Sinful. Totally sinful. Like, really guilty.

Oral History 15.12.01PD with Peter Duschinsky
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21


An Exotic and Far Away Place - Yella and Mooshie Zahirovich

Time 2:31

Transcript:

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


Being Selected to Come to Canada - Madan Kumar Giri

Time 1:48

Transcript:

They didn’t tell us the exact reason why our family was selected and how. I even didn’t ask how our family was selected. They simply called us in their office and said, Madan, your family is selected for the settlement, as a pilot project group. And the settlement will be in Canada. The Canadian government has agreed to settle the pilot project group. So, that was only the enquiry they did with us. And I didn’t ask them further why our family was selected. Why not the other family? I didn’t ask like that. It was because we were already living there in the refugee camp for almost eleven years at the time. So it was a long time in the refugee camp. We were living with nothing else, you know. Simply a certain amount of food, simply getting a certain amount of food for a day was in our life. And we were still looking to do something more to build up our life. We were still looking to be a citizen of some other country. We were still looking to do everything by ourselves. We didn’t want to depend on the government or any settlement agency for food and clothing and, you know, living. So yeah, when I got the news about the settlement, I was very happy. And I said, yes, we will be happy to go anywhere, wherever UNHCR wants to settle us. So that’s how the process started.

Oral History 14.05.08MKG with Madan Kumar Giri
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

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Arriving in Canada: Arepas in Mississauga - Monica Valencia

Time 1:08

Transcript:

So, we took a plane from Miami to Detroit. And then at Detroit, we just waited for my dad’s cousin to pick us up, and then he drove us to Windsor. And then when we came to Windsor, we claimed refugee status but they uh didn’t deal with a lot of those types of cases—claiming refugee status—so then we waiting for like seven hours. And then we finally got in, and we went to my cousin’s house—well, my dad’s cousin’s house. And he lives in Mississauga. And he used to live, back then, with his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s two brothers and his girlfriend’s dog and his girlfriend’s mom and dad. So it was a lot of people. But, I guess we liked that because we didn’t feel lonely so we feel that we had company. And his mother-in-law, his mo—yeah, his mother-in-law—she had arepas for us. So arepas is like flatbread made out of corn from Colombia with cheese— like fresh cheese—also from Colombia. So we liked coming to the house and having that type of food.

Oral History 15.03.21MV with Monica Valencia
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

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