Country of Origin:
Citizenship, Immigration, Adjusting to Life in Canada
Brajinder talks about how she ended up in Canada from Pakistan. She talks about how hard her family worked to make a comfortable life for themselves.
My name is Brajinder Dhillon, and I was born in Pakistan. I teach English as a Second Language in Delta, BC, and I enjoy my job.
It was in 1947 that India was divided into two countries: India and Pakistan. My father was killed in the wars. My aunt, who was in Canada since 1936, asked my mother and her children to immigrate to Canada as refugees. Those days Canada was taking refugees from Pakistan. My aunt thought that my family would have a decent life living in Canada. My aunt sent us all the required immigration papers, but my mother who did not speak English did not want to leave India, and refused the offer to come to Canada.
After I got married I found out that my husband Jag, who had a degree in law and sciences, was a progressive and adventurous man. He wanted to settle in England or Canada. At this time, my brother was starting in Canada at UBC. He had been in Canada since 1957. We asked him to apply for our immigration.
In those days, immigration was based on a quota, or a point system. If a relative was willing to sponsor, and you had a good education, then your application would be accepted easily.
It was in 1963 that my husband, my daughter and I came to live in Canada. All of my relatives lived in Vancouver, therefore we all landed in Vancouver. In 1963, there were not that may people from India living in Canada. We would often feel lonely and homesick. We would go out and enjoy the beautiful view of Vancouver, and then we would feel a little better.
We had only seven dollars in our pockets when we arrived in Canada. Jag got a job in the Parks and Recreation Centre. He was paid one dollar an hour. He had to clear all leaves and fallen branches off the ground and burn them. He did not complain about his work, but the money was not enough to pay for his tuition at UBC. We needed more money to pay the rent and buy food.
One day a friend took Jag to a lumber mill and got him a job. He had to pull lumber off a machine, and unfortunately when he did that, he sprained his hipbone. Being a city boy he couldn't handle that. The company gave him an easier job so he could make enough money to pay for his school.
I got a teaching job in Houston, BC, in September 1964, but I could not carry on with my job because I'd given birth to twins. The twins were four months old at the time. It was also very cold in Houston, and I was not used to this severe weather change. It was difficult to manage with three children.
We had a rough time in the beginning, but after graduation my husband got a nice provincial government job in Victoria. We moved to Victoria in 1966. The children were growing up fast.
In 1972, we went to India for a visit. The children were happy to see a different world. We realized that during our nine years of absence from our home country we had lost most of our friends. Even our relatives treated us like guests. We wanted to come back to Canada as soon as possible. At this moment we realized that from then onward, Canada was our home.