Finally Finding Home

“I always knew that Canada would be my destination country. I valued its diversity, cultural values and welcoming environment for newcomers.” – Mussarat Parveen

Mussarat Parveen immigrated to Canada with her husband and two daughters in 2017, from Tajikistan, a mountainous, landlocked country in Central Asia. Deciding to move to Canada was exciting, Mussarat recollects. “One day I received a text message from my husband ‘Congratulations! Our application has been accepted by the Provincial Nomination Program!’”

Mussarat, like many others, has found happiness living in Canada. “It feels like home, especially when the wind blows in the summer.” She plays chess with her daughter, is addicted to Tim Horton’s double doubles and loves following Roughrider games.

With Canada Day just around the corner, we’re reminded of what it means to be Canadian, the different journeys we’ve taken to get to here and all the amazing things our country has to offer.

Cloudy blue sky backdrop of the Legislative building in Regina Saskatchewan surrounded by a bed of flowers.

There are a plethora of reasons why anyone would choose Canada as their forever home. From maple syrup and poutine to Canada’s diverse landscapes and vibrant neighbourhoods, Canada is ranked in the top countries to live in when it comes to quality of life. For most of us first and second-generation Canadians, our families moved here for better opportunities, higher-paying jobs, better education and safer environments than what was available in their home countries.

Like Selma Kiwirra, a woman who encouraged her children to leave their home to pursue greater education opportunities. Born in Sudan, Selma and her family have lived in England, Switzerland and in the Arab Gulf area of Asia. As her children grew older, seeking a good education for her children and a country with a future became important.

Her oldest son, being interested in the University of Regina’s Petroleum Engineering program, applied and was quickly accepted. A year later, Selma’s daughter joined her son here in Saskatchewan. Selma had two more children she was planning to send to Canada, but before she did, Selma decided to take a leap of faith. Setting an example for her kids and for the many mothers who are left behind as their children leave home, she came to Canada as an International Student to pursue her graduate studies.

Family photo of mother and father and their four adult children.

However, moving to a new place came with its own series of challenges. In this unfamiliar place, Selma found herself losing her sense of direction. With Saskatchewan’s bitter cold and feeling isolated in a new city where everything looked the same, Selma struggled to find her way.

With an open mind and heart, Regina began to grow on Selma. “For the first time in my life, I feel at home. I’ve lived on several continents. Canada is the fourth continent I’ve lived in. You get to be yourself, dress how you like, find international food in stores, practice your faith – all in harmony with the rest of the diverse Canadian community.”

In 2016, Selma proudly earned her Masters in Adult Education, a moment of true magnitude where she had the privilege of celebrating with her family. This was Selma’s third degree and she is incredibly proud of her achievement.  “It refreshed my mind and soul and is one of the biggest educational challenges I’ve experienced. I am proud that I’ve achieved it.”

A mother's convocation with her family.

Just like Selma, Mussarat and their families, my parents also made the difficult choice of leaving their businesses, homes, and families behind to immigrate to Canada to provide their future generations a better life.

I love living in Canada. It’s where I’ve discovered it is possible to call “snowed-in” to work, drink milk from a bag, and enjoy jerk chicken, loukoumades and bubble tea, digestively and logistically, within minutes of each other. From making an actual difference in my community to continuously meeting people from all walks of life, I’ve gained and will continue to achieve true independence. I thank my mother every day for having the strength to uproot her entire world to ensure her children would be able to fulfill their dreams.

So, in honour of being Canadian, let’s give Canada the celebration it deserves by heading to any of the following local Canada Day celebration events, happening across the province:

Saskatoon

Regina

Moose Jaw

Yorkton

Prince Albert

Swift Current

A special thanks to Selma Kiwirra and Mussarat Parveen for sharing their experiences and the Regina Region Local Immigration Partnership (RRLIP) for their collaborative efforts.

Selma Kiwirra is an active member of the Immigrant Advisory Table, a diverse and inclusive volunteer table that informs the work of the Partnership Council.

Mussarat Parveen works with the Welcoming Community for Newcomers Program at the Regina Open Door Society (RODS). To read her full story and other newcomer experiences, check out “Opening Doors Through Stories,” a collection of stories written by newcomers to Regina, in partnership with RODS and the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild.

– Rosana Mookshah is a Product Consultant on the Brand & Digital Platforms Team at Directwest.