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Immigrant People in Canada カナダの移民たち

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School has started for Sumi and Sosuke, our grandchildren from Japan. (at Sumi’s school, Glen Eagles Elementary School. She is in Grade 7.)

Sosuke’s first day of school, at Lions Bay Elementary School. He is in Grade 2.
3 year old Riden and 4 month old Tora in Lions Bay
Snow geese in Powell River
I made 9 pies from our apple trees and 6 of them still frozen
Good beer at a lakeside pub

The summer is gone, and like a door shut behind us, September has arrived, bringing us cold air and much rain. Various classes and activities have started. I, who cannot stay still, have started my busy life again. Not only starting fitness, swimming, and choirs, which I always had, Neil and I started a brand new French class. I have never learned French before. To tell you the truth, I always had this doubt about studying new languages. I know how difficult languages are. Since I’m not a child, it seems impossible to become really proficient at this age. Then why would I bother? Wouldn’t it be a waste of time and money? What am I going to use French for? I had some serious doubts.

I don’t know why, but I had a silly imagination. That was….a French class taught by a strict elderly woman with reading glasses on her nose…..a silly stereotype ….and…..it was totally wrong. The person who was waiting for us at the French cultural center was a young black man with inquisitive eyes and big smiles. He is an immigrant from Congo. Although he was a medical doctor in Congo, he does not have the right qualification to practice medicine in Canada. So he is teaching and assisting French classes in the local schools. He seemed to be a sincere, fun, and patient man, and I liked him!

Thinking back this year, I met several immigrant people from different countries. When I was still living in Lions Bay, I took some personal training sessions. At the time, Covid caused all the fitness classes to be cancelled, and yet, I needed exercising so badly. At the Recreation Centre, R was assigned to me as my personal trainer. R is a young beautiful woman in her 30s, an immigrant from Syria. She is a single mother raising a 12 year old girl all by herself. Often, we engaged in conversations and she would say… “my daughter is getting more and more difficult these days,” or “I’m afraid my daughter is feeling lonely because I’m always working,” or “I have been all alone for more than 10 years I feel so lonely at times.” She reminded me of myself when I was in my 30s. “I know…I do understand your feelings…… I’ve been there. I, too, raised my children in a foreign country by myself, all alone. I, too, wept many nights, feeling so lonely.” I felt some invisible thread connecting R and me. I think of her often, even now, after moving to Powell River. R, please stay well and find lots of happiness……I’m thinking of you.

In July we moved to Powell River. On the moving day, 5 guys showed up to move our furniture and boxes in 2 big trucks. 4 out of 5 guys were immigrants. They were hard working, strong, wonderful guys from Albania, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Hong Kong. F, the guy from Albania was the leader. My first impression of him was “kind of scary,” because he had sharp eyes. When we traveled in Bulgaria some years ago, we had opportunities to drive beside Albanian borders. Albania was very different from west Europe or even Bulgaria. There were Islam mosques everywhere; villages were humble; and people were looking poor. During the 3 days of our move from Lions Bay to Powell River, my impression of F changed completely. He told me about his 2 children, about how he immigrated to Canada, and about how much he worries about his aging parents who are farming in Albania. He said funny jokes without moving a single muscle on his serious looking face, and I kept on laughing and laughing. He made our move so much fun when otherwise it could have turned stressful and exhausting. Thank you, F, for so much laughs, and thank you for taking good care of my sad looking potted plants.

After arriving Powell River, a young pleasant guy D came to install some blinds in the house. He was a refugee from Syria. He arrived here few years ago, sponsored by some group in Powell River. After finishing school somewhere, he came back to Powell River, and now he is settled down with a wife and job.

Canada is a country like mosaic. You look around and see many different faces, cultures, and languages. They have arrived here as immigrants or refugees, then working hard, although barely making their livings, and trying to co-exist with others in harmony. It is not easy to live here, especially when they don’t have the support or resources of their families. However, most of them put on a brave face, and try to find their place in this society. You need to work harder with lower wages, fight with hidden or occasionally obvious discriminations, be patient and open to new ways, and stay positive and hopeful. I feel like I am receiving energy and hope by getting to know these people. They are certainly contributing so much to making Canada a great place to live.

バタンとドアが閉まるように夏が去った。9月になって急に冷たい風や雨が訪れた。と同時に色んなクラスやアクテイヴィテイが始まり、じっとしてられない私はにわかに忙しくなった。フィットネス、水泳、コーラスは今までもやってたことだけど、初めてフランス語の勉強をすることになった。本当はお金と時間をかけてフランス語なんて勉強して何になるんだろう、という疑問がつきまとってどちらかというとそんなに気が向いていたわけじゃなかったけど、最初のクラスに行ってすっかり気が変わってしまった。

なぜかなんとなく、年配のフランス人の女性が鼻眼鏡をかけて厳しく叱咤激励して教えてくれるフランス語…というイメージがあったんだけどとんでもなかったんだよ。フランスカルチャーセンターで私たちを待っててくれたのは、目のくりくりした、にこやかな若い黒人の男性。コンゴから移民したお医者さんなのだそうだ。でもカナダではお医者さんの資格がないのでパウエルリバーの教育機関でフランス語を教えたり教師の助手をしたりしているという。誠実で愉快で忍耐強くて私はすっかり気に入ってしまった。

思えば今年に入ってから私はずいぶんいろんな国からの移民の人達に出会ったな。まずはまだライオンズベイに住んでいた今年の初め、コロナでフィットネスのクラスが閉鎖されたので、パーソナルトレーナーに個人レッスンを受けることにした。私のトレーナーはRという30代の美しい女性、シリアからの移民だそうな。一人で子供を育てながらパーソナルトレーニングの仕事をして一生懸命生きてる…。「子供が反抗期に入って大変なの。」「私がいつもいつも働いてるから子供に寂しい思いをさせてる、」「ずーっと10年以上も1人だったからすごーく寂しい時があるの、」と言いながらトレーニングをしてくれる姿を見ていると私の30代の頃の姿とダブってくる。『そうだよね。本当に。気持ち痛いほどわかるよ。私も異国の地で一人ぼっちで働きながら子供を育てたんだよ。私も寂しくて泣いたことが何度もあった。』なんとなくR というシリア出身の彼女と見えない糸で結ばれているかのような気がしてパウエルリバーに引っ越してからも気になっている。どうか元気で、幸せになってほしい…

F。

7月に引っ越したとき5人の力強い男性が2台のトラックで運送してくれた。そのうち4人が移民。アルバニアとサウジアラビアとリビアと香港からの4人…力持ちでよーく働く素晴らしい若者たちだった。特に印象に残っているのはアルバニアから来たF 。最初に会った時は目が鋭くて怖いような気がしていた。数年前にブルガリアに行った時に、アルバニアのそばを何度もドライブする機会があった。いかにも貧しくて、イスラム教のモスクがあって、ヨーロッパとは全然雰囲気の違うアルバニアの村々は印象的だった。そのアルバニアから来た目の鋭いF。最初の怖い印象が、ライオンズベイからパウエルリバーまでの3日がかりの引っ越しの過程でガラリと変わってしまった。子供が2人いるというF 、奥さんがまずカナダに来てF をスポンサーしてくれたという。年老いた親御さんはアルバニアで農業をやっていて心配だという。真面目な顔をしておかしなことを言って私をケタケタ笑わせてくれる。ただでさえストレス満杯の引越しの日々を楽しくしてくれた。今にも死にそうな私の植木たちさえも嫌な顔一つせずユーモアたっぷり、丁寧に運んでくれて感謝。ありがとうF。

パウエルリバーに来てからも、D という若い、感じの良い男性がブラインドを取り付けに来てくれた。彼はシリアからの難民だという。数年前にパウエルリバーのグループがスポンサーになってくれてカナダに来たそうな。進学のために一度は町を出たけど、卒業してまたパウエルリバーに戻ってきたんだという。

カナダは本当にモザイクのような国。多くの人々が難民だとか移民だとかでカナダに来て明るく逞しく生きている。言葉も文化も考え方も異なる地で一生懸命自分の居場所を見つけようとしている。楽しいことばかりじゃない、人の何倍もの努力が必要で、大変な苦労だ。それでも希望を持って明るく生きてる彼らの姿を見ていると私まで勇気と元気をもらってるような気になってくる。どうか素敵な人々と出会って楽しいことをいっぱい体験して幸せになってほしい…。

Author: Haruyo Abramson

I'm a musician, mom, and grandma, living in BC, Canada with my husband and three dogs.

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