As the plane circled the airport awaiting a place to land, our two preteenagers Enver, and Nadya could not conceal their excitement. After the 5-hour flight from London, what a welcome relief to have the destination in full view beneath us. The children could not contain their excitement, especially as they witnessed the traffic down below. Their immediate reaction was the comparison between the innumerable number of motorcars scuttling down below on the multiple highways. It was unlike anything they had ever seen before.
I was filled with anxiety, it had been four months since Bis and I had parted, and all I wanted was to continue to live in London, England. Bis tried every ruse to entice me to join him. Finally, I’d been persuaded.
He could not have been happier to be reunited with us. After the trauma he suffered in South Africa; in Canada he was on par with his peers, and at last the stigma of being of East Indian descent, and not European was beginning to fade into the past.
“Canada is a haven” Bis said, “Joan, I am a free man, and we will be able to educate our children equal to their peers. They will not have to bear the shame and suffer the humiliation that I had to contend with.”
My only excuse for dilly-dallying in London was ignorance on my part, and I was probably a trifle biased about landing and settling in a small Ontario town.
Five years later we qualified for Canadian Citizenship. On the 19th November 1970 we were pleased to become full-fledged Canadian Citizens. At that time, in small town Ontario, there were no Immigration Offices and far fewer immigrants.
At a simple ceremony conducted in the local Cabinet of Canada Office in Guelph, we swore an oath of loyalty to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and we signed our Canadian Citizenship Certificates before a judge. There was no pomp, no ceremony nor any other witnesses. But, the children burst into the Canadian national anthem, “Oh Canada!” spontaneously bringing much joy to the moment.
Canada had provided my husband with the opportunity to heal his tormented being, something for which he was eternally grateful.
We celebrate Canada Day to remind us what the country stands for; it is for equality and honour, and all are created equal in this bountiful land. It is not perfect, but it provides an opportunity to strive for the best life has to offer, and the best we can be. Canada offers a chance to fulfill all or hopes and dreams, and to live a contented and fruitful life, with tolerance, dignity and gratitude.
This 91-year old immigrant is proud to celebrate and to stand on guard for thee. Happy 152 years!!