Country of Origin:
Citizenship, Immigration, Racism/Discrimination, Identity & Heritage, Multiculturalism & Diversity, Adjusting to Life in Canada
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Gloria Pierre emigrated from Guyana, South America in January 1974. On arrival, she settled in Toronto and has lived in the city ever since. She lived in the East York region for about 8 years, lived in Scarborough for another 8 years and has now settled in North York. While in East York, she volunteered with St John’s Ambulance and worked with Red Cross Services and the Government of Canada.
I arrived in Canada on January 1974 and entered a wonderful white world of snow. This was my first experience with snow. The only snow I was familiar with was the sparkly ‘snow’ on imported Christmas cards. There were so many eye-popping and jaw-dropping sights and experiences! I would never forget the ride from the airport on Highway 401 with so many lanes, the availability of so many food items, my first ride on the subway and how fearful I was getting on and off the trains in rush hour. I requested and got a free recipe book from Unico and started experimenting with food I had never heard of and could not pronounce.
I was the first one in my family to immigrate to Canada. My mom and my siblings followed. With all of our own families, there are about 45 of us in the immediate family and all living close by. Our kids were born here so we have a blend of Canadian and Guyanese culture and food.
What I’ve come to realize is that the immigrants are not the only ones who had to adjust. The residents also had to adjust. At the time I was focusing on getting past the hurdles and getting a job without Canadian experience. What I have observed is that both residents and immigrants are adjusting faster.
I was given the opportunity to come to Canada, a country with training and career options that have uncovered my abilities and potential. I’ve pursued what interests me and parlayed that into my business, Clearly Speaking. I experience a sense of belonging when I cross the border after a trip to the US. I experienced a sense of unity with my fellow Canadians when areas of Canada are threatened- the train derailment in Mississauga in 1979, the ice storm in Quebec in 1998, the Red River overflowing in Winnipeg in 2009, the prospect of Quebec separation and Terry Fox coming to Toronto. I experience a sense of hope when I see high school students from different cultures hanging out together and teaching each other about their roots.
Canada is home. I can’t think of living anywhere that’s not multicultural.