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Life in Canada

War Strategies: Plan B - Habib El-Hage

Time 2:37


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

I have to say that what's important, what was interesting in that part of the war, is, uhm. Many things can be said about war, right, many horrible things. In my case, it's true, I saw all kinds of horrible things, but we also develop this aspect, this? we develop some kind of survival, a disposition to steer through all these dangers and? and survive, to establish survival strategies. That's what we develop during war time. And that's also what I developed in, I'd say, an interesting way, because I was able to steer through all kinds of problems that I faced over there. I was able to go from Beirut to the north, west and east with avoidance strategies, that? they? those were interesting. So I was able to do it.

When I got here, there is one thing I found very tough: those survival strategies, I didn't need them here, so it was hard for me to see how to use them. For, for example? just as an example: in order to go north from Beirut, we had to cross about ten checkpoints, by which I mean armed barricades. To cross, to go through each barricade, we needed to use a specific discourse. If they asked questions of course. In other words, survival strategies, or a plan B, were always there, you know? Sometimes it was, uhm, a pack of cigarettes for the soldier and then he would let me go through. Sometimes I would give an other kind of present and then he would let me pass. I didn't need that here. So, these strategies, those plan Bs, they were useless. All those things I had developed over the years, I didn't use them anymore here. So it? at first, it depressed me. I didn't understand why I no longer needed that and I was looking for answers, I had to create other kinds of strategies.

Oral History 16.03.20HEH with Habib El-Hage
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

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Starting Life in Canada:
Cooking Nepalese Food in Charlottetown - Madan Kumar Giri

Time 4:29


Madan Kumar Giri (MKG): We were sponsored by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. That’s what was written in the letter. So whatever the financial help that we were supposed to get, that was provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada—all financial help for food, for apartment rent, for buying new clothes for the first time, like jackets and these things, once. They provided us everything, immigration. Our sponsor group from our community from the church were helping us to take us to the different places to do the paperwork. And, they also provided us some kitchen utensils, some chairs, tables, some clothes that people have donated. They did that and they introduced us with the other members of the church. When we stayed in the hotel in Quality Inn, everyday there used to be some members of the church—like, they came to see us in the hotel. But their sponsorship was not related with the financial part. The whole financial part was done by CIC.

Emily Burton (EB): So then you had an apartment?

MKG: Yeah, we got an apartment. For eighteen days, we simply, I still remember, for eighteen days we didn’t get a chance to cook our Nepalese food. That was the terrible part. That was only the terrible part that we have experienced while coming to Prince Edward Island. Everything went smoothly. But we were in a hotel, there was no oven, nothing else. We couldn’t cook our food. So, we simply depend upon the bread and the jam for eighteen days. So as soon as we shifted to our apartment, we got the groceries from Superstore and from some other places, and we got some pots to cook food. Then we cooked food and we just ate our Nepalese food.

EB: Were you able to find all of the ingredients, or most of the ingredients that you were used to?

MKG: Yes. Yeah, everything was there. We got the food items from Superstore and spices from Bulk Barn, stores like Bulk Barn, everything was there. So we got everything. We didn’t have any problem to get anything. We didn’t have any difficulties.

EB: What did you buy at the Superstore? Do you remember?

MKG: Yes. We got, I think, eight bags of rice—eight big, big bags. Because our people, we’re used to with rice only.

EB: Basmati rice?

MKG: Yeah, basmati rice, or something like that. So we eat rice in the morning as well as we eat rice in the evening. Rice is always a food. So I remember—eight bags of rice, then some vegetables, salt, sugar, juice, and some other, like, eggs. We didn’t find goat meat at the time. Because we only take goat meat, we don’t take other meat. Like, we don’t take beef or something like. We are Hindus, we pray for the cows. So cow is our god, so by religion it’s against our religious belief to eat goat, uh sorry, to eat cows. So we just eat goat and sometimes sheep, yes, sheep. And we do—some of poor people, if they like it, they do eat chicken and eggs. But we didn’t find goat at the time. But we did got lamb. So we bought lamb and we cooked food and we started our Nepalese food in our own apartment and that’s how we started our life.

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

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Research with Newcomer Children - Monica Valencia

Time 3:36


Monica Valencia: And then after that, I did my Master’s because when I was studying journalism—when you’re a journalist, you have to pick a, like, a beat you want to do—I don’t know, crime or you want to do politics. And for me, I was interested in doing diversity and immigration and multiculturalism. So I would go to events or I will interview, I don’t know, newcomers. And then I saw this Master’s at Ryerson University. It was a one-year program: Immigration and Settlement Studies. I did the program. Two semesters. It was courses and then one semester, it was your own research. And I really enjoy that uh component of the program where I had the opportunity to design my own research study and then conduct my own, my own research. And when I did that, I focused on newcomer children because when I was a newcomer myself, as a child, I always wanted to express myself and to tell my story but I didn’t know how. So when I did my Master’s, I decided to give children the opportunity to tell their stories while they’re still in the midst of that experience.

Emily Burton: Can you tell me a little bit more about that? How many children did you interview, for example? Where were they from? What were some of the conclusions of the study?

Monica Valencia: Yes. So I interviewed ten children. And they were from Bolivia, and then Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, um, and I think it was Chile, as well. And then I met with the children in their homes. Because I would ask children, “Where do you want to meet? Where do you feel more comfortable?” And they will tell me, “Oh, I feel comfortable at home.” So I will go to their homes and I will meet with them and I will talk to them. And I only had one question for them. I wanted to know, “What’s your story? How is it like?” I wanted to understand, um, how they interpreted their settlement and their migration stories—stories— and I wanted to know how they felt throughout the process. And then, the children, they, I gave them several options. So you can draw your experiences or you can write your narratives. Most of the children felt more comfortable drawing their experiences, but some of them which were, I guess, stronger writers, then they will feel more comfortable writing their stories. And when I did this, when I met with the children, I share a little bit of my story with them so that they will feel comfortable and so that they will be also some kind of rapport between the child and myself. And I wanted them to see me not as a teacher who’s, like, giving them a questionnaire or we’re taking a test. I wanted them to actually feel comfortable and open up with me and share their stories with me. So I would also partake um in the activities. I will draw, I will draw with them and write my narrative. And they would explain their drawings to me. Because sometimes you see a drawing and you interpret it, but that’s not what the painter meant. So I would ask the child, “What do you mean?” “What’s, what’s this um—” I don’t know—“Are you crying here?” “Are you happy?” “Can you explain that to me?” And then they would explain that to me. And um—That experience was really meaningful because sometimes I feel that we focus too much on the adults and their experiences and how can we support them and we kind of like neglect the feelings of the children a little bit and we don’t pay that much attention to what’s going on in your world.

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

Karen and Canadian - Bwe Doh Soe

Time 1:45


Well, I, right now, I feel like I’m becoming more like a half of Canadian I guess, because I get, because I’ve been here long enough to adopt the culture now, so. But, maybe if you were asking those questions earlier, like two years or three, I would answer differently. But now day, it’s just such a very, because I get so much involved in the Canadian also—Canadian, um, the organisation, and those kind of stuff. So, it’s, you’re kind of, like, yeah, it just, I am sometime—I am missing, missing half of the, my Karen culture. I am missing those stuff. But, because, we, because of what I do every day, it’s more likely a norm group doing every day. It’s like you are kind of like losing it, but one of the main things, like I say, we are glad to able to keep—that was one of the main things—maybe crossing the arms or those kind of—maybe not able to using any more, but if we, as long as we can stay—keep our culture alive, by promoting our culture through the project on the language, and those kind of stuff. I think if we are—because everybody have their own commitment to this country, because they have their own thing to do. And if they’re able to focus in a half of their culture, I think it such a—it would be really, really amaze to me, because most, many of the people who Karen—many of the Karen people who live here, also they are totally forget about the Karen culture. And, you know, they don’t even, they wanted to live as an, they want to live as an Canadian, you know, as a people. But I think it’s good to see, then, half of the people are still practising through all those thing, you know.

Oral History 13.11.23BDS with Bwe Doh Soe
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21