Hi my name is Maryam Jafari and this is my #MyCanada story.
I am Persian, born in Spain, yet I call Canada my home. Growing up, I struggled with the question of where I am from every time I was asked. I knew that being Canadian meant that I had to have been born elsewhere because of my middle eastern features. Yet, there I was, not being able to call Iran or Spain home, because I never held any roots there. I usually would just say I am Iranian because of my parents. However, these days, I call myself a proud Iranian- Canadian, all because of my mother.
It was June 18, 1989, my mother was twenty-seven years old with two boys, ages nine and seven, and one tiny one and a half year old girl, came to Canada from Spain all on her own, all because someone told her that across the Atlantic Ocean there lies a land of opportunities.
My mother was led into a shelter with three kids when she claimed refugee, knowing that there was no turning back to Iran, especially at a time of war (Iran and Iraq). My mother began working as a translator, in the shelter, because she learned to speak Spanish while in Spain. Gradually, my mother started getting small jobs here and there, and the local government services helped her settle in Scarborough. My mother went to school, learned English, provided for my brothers and I, and made sure we received the education we deserved, all on her own.
Twenty- nine years later, tears come to my eyes each time I reminisce about my past. I’m not going to lie, there were some hardships in our lives, my mother, brothers and I, yet my mom never let us feel the lack of belonging in this county. Because of Canada, and its opportunities, my mom raised three children all on her own. #mycanada is the land of opportunities across the Atlantic Ocean. #mycanada is the land that helped my mom shows her children that anything is possible and that every one has a right to education and the right to stay away from war. #mycanada showed my mother that her children are lucky. She now works for a huge organization, Aisling Discoveries Child and Family Centre, in which she helps new mothers, that are a majority of newcomers, build a healthy family lifestyle and raising their children without missing any opportunities that Canada has for them.
Living in Toronto, I have learned that I belong, that my uniqueness is appreciated, that my past is accepted, that I can always try, try again. Canada is truly a land of opportunities and acceptance that allowed my mother, my brothers and I live healthy lifestyles.
#mycanada is my proud Iranian - Canadian mother, for she would not be that strong mother she is if it wasn’t for her acceptance as a single Iranian mother of three in Canada.
So ask me now where I am from, and I’ll proudly say, I am from Canada, that I am Canadian.