Resilient, Proud, Hard working. Driven, Hopeful. Strong. Flexible. Are only some of the words used to describe our immigrant population, and we can think of many many more. Some of you may or may not know, R1 was born in the West Indies and R2 was born in Canada. Our parents moved to Montreal over 22 years ago. So, while these are not traits exclusive to immigrants, in some ways we ALL possess these characteristics, we feel that immigrants possess an extra level of drive that maybe non-immigrants may not have had to tap into. On this week’s blog post, we wanted to share our perspective and why we are proud to have been raised by immigrant parents. Read along, to see what we mean!
they have no idea what it’s like to lose home at the risk of never finding home again to have your entire life split between two lands and become the bridge between two countries.Immigrant- Rupi Kaur
Before we begin and before anyone accuses us of being biased or unfair, we will reiterate that we are speaking from our perspective and recognize that there are hard working, strong, resilient people who are not immigrants (that being said, we’re technically ALL immigrants). Our inspiration for this post remains our mother, a woman who sacrificed a lot in order for us to have and live the lives we have now. A woman who moved from a tiny Caribbean island to a cold, foreign one. Of course Canadians and other cultures have had to make sacrifices in order to give their children a better life than they had, but none can speak of the pressures faced by immigrants. We are in the unique situation with one of us being born in Canada and the other immigrating here at such a young age there is no remaining impressions of the country of their birth. It has to be said that coming to an environment where you know no one, your network of family, friends and a place you feel safe being miles and time zones away, is incredibly daunting.
Having to give up your home, all that you know, be it from war, famine or the slither of possibility of a better life is an incredibly hard thing to do. I have packed up and moved away from my family twice, that was voluntary and it was still one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Add the stress of the unknown, language and culture in the mix and you really have to have courage. These were some of the challenges our mother faced. On top of that, working really hard to earn a diploma that is then seen are merely paper, having to begin again with your career and really find yourself, find who you are in this new evironment. Our mother did it with children. In some ways, seeing the struggle, seeing the hustle, seeing the amount of hard work, time and dedication it takes to get a settled, the number of times you are passed up for opportunities or how you cannot take too many risks, because the implications are far too great. The drive, knowing that people “back home” are all relying on you to succeed, the fact that you only have yourself to rely on. all these can be overwhelming, but they are also a motivator. Mainly because most of the time, for most people, looking back isn’t an option, but this may also be incredibly isolating and I don’t know if we really thing about how overwhelmingly alone some may feel. I don’t know how much credit we give immigrants when you think of the number of years in their lives they lose, the feelings of loss they have experienced, to land in a country with people who don’t want them there or who believe they are there to take something away from them. Our mother wouldn’t have left Grenada if she didn’t believe we could live a better life, no we weren’t escaping a war or persecution. Her decision was made out of trauma, the American government had invaded the island in 1983, she had just given birth to her 1st child (our brother). The fear and feeling of helplessness forced her to make the tough decision to leave the only life she knew for a risk, a risk of a better one. There was no guarantee, no back up plan, but that focus and drive isn’t to be underestimated.
You broke the ocean in half to be here. Only to meet nothing that wants you.– immigrant
We learnt hard work and dedication from seeing the walls that were hit, but also from seeing the successes. Growing up in an immigrant family, it has always been ingrained in us that you don’t have to work just as hard, you work harder, do it right and make sure you’re not rocking the boat. In some ways, assimilate, but, our mere presence is success- us walking university halls, owning businesses, having children, we are our ancestors’ wildest dreams. I suppose for some, knowing what they left behind, is a good drive to push through and stubbornly succeed. Knowing that you are not doing it for yourself, but or the generations to come. Immigrant families don’t have the luxury and privilege of generational wealth in the countries they restart their lives in and maybe this is why they are so driven to start something over here, in order to leave a legacy for the generations to come. Being driven and possessing the ability to look hopefully to the future, this is what I feel a deep level of pride for.
So, the next time you hear or read a negative article or comment about immigrants, keep some of this in mind- we are ALL immigrants. If not directly, we are descendants of immigrants. The Europeans and colonizers robbed, rapped and pillaged the land and the people, but they came here for riches and for the chance at a different, and potentially better life. Plan and simple, I don’t know if any of us has the right to say someone doesn’t belong or doesn’t deserve the opportunity to create a legacy for their family. We have a lot to thank our immigrant population for and give them much more credit that we currently do. We, are extremely proud to be from an immigrant family!!!