Monday, September 28, 2015



It's a topic that's been in the news a lot lately and it has made me think back.   I was an immigrant child, coming from a northern European country.   Maybe one of the ones that migrants seek to settle in today.   But at the time of my family's emigration, the economies of Europe were not thriving;   jobs were scarce and housing scarcer.   As a young child I was aware of none of this; but there was no war and no shortage of food.

I've been told that we were were sponsored by my father's sister who had arrived a couple of years earlier.   The airfare was lent to us by the Canadian government.   My father paid it back slowly over a few years.  We were poor, I realize now, but my father got a job almost right away, despite his limited English.  He was never out of work until his retirement, slowly improving himself until he obtain a good position.   There was housing to rent affordably and later to purchase.   Jobs are not as plentiful now and in the major urban centres, housing is very expensive.

I started Grade 1 a few months after our arrival.   There was no English language instruction at that time;  I received 'E's on my Report Card to indicate my inabilities.  This was the next  grade up from an 'F'.  I slowly improved;  by Grade 2 I had worked my way up to 'D's' and so on.   Since I now have several post-graduate degrees and diplomas, somehow it all worked out.  As an English language teacher, I see Kindergarten children, born in this country, who don't speak any English.   Their parents, who immigrated  to Canada prior to their birth, have done them a disservice,  I think.

As a homemaker, which most married women were at that time, my mother struggled to learn English.   I seem to recall that the neighbourhood children would throw crab apples at our front door for the pleasure of seeing my mother come out and shout at them in a foreign language.   Although not especially religious,  my parents became involved with the local immigrant church.  That continued as an important social connection.   But we never lived in an immigrant enclave and I eventually married someone who was not from my 'home' country.  

I am interested to see how everything unfolds in Europe.  It is history in the making. 

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