The recent shooting of Muslim men at prayer is horrifying and evil on more than one level. I am the granddaughter of a Ukrainian immigrant to eastern Alberta in the early 1900's. These resilient people (as all immigrants are) came to Canada seeking a better life and more importantly, chances for their children. My grandfather chose Canada because he wanted to be in a country under the British monarch. He came not speaking English and lost track of family who were sent to different parts of the country. My grandfather worked hard, farming with teams of horses and he died long before I was born. My grandmother never learned English and the strangeness of the new country wore her down.
My father, the son of this immigrant, fought in WW11. He was through North Africa, Italy and into Belgium. His hard work when he came home made it possible for me to attend university. He valued education and although he had to quit school in grade 9, he made sure I (and my brother) had every opportunity.
My mother was an English warbride so I she was an immigrant, too. The son of an immigrant married a woman from England and brought her to the hard life as a farm wife near the farm where he was born. She made the adjustment to the difficulties and although she missed 'jolly old England', she made Canada her home. Together my mother and father raised two children and made a life that gave us every chance.
I would like to think that I took advantage of those chances and the appreciation for education has been carried on to my children who both have 2 degrees and now work as teachers. They are thoughtful, contributing members of society who don't harbour prejudices against new comers.
My father couldn't speak English when he went to school and was backed into a corner and ridiculed. By the time he was older, his English was unaccented. Quite an accomplishment. Ukrainian immigrants and their kids were called bohunks at the time- pretty derogatory. Not far from where I sit writing this, a family of Ukrainian immigrants were burned out of their farm three times. Then they left the district.
My mother was, of course, the Limey from Blighty, and she didn't have the skills a farm wife needed. At least not at first. When she came to Canada, the house featured no power, no running water and no furnace of any kind. Those were the days of cold and long winters. There was deep snow and they were trapped in the house for periods of time. Travel might be by horse and rack over the fields. Somehow she managed.
My father was so determined that we should fit into this land, that he didn't teach us the Ukrainian language. We didn't have Ukrainian food, or practice any of the customs. I am poorer for this omission. My mother taught us the British customs that we know and many of her expressions have crept into our daily language. An enrichment of what is mainstream Canadiana.
This is why I am determined that if I can help in some small way to change attitudes, to make what our members of parliament proclaimed on our behalf, to welcome newcomers to our country, I will. Scientists know there is ONE human race. Genetics prove it and the differences in religion, custom and culture should not make a difference to us.
I've been writing on and off for years and this is where my more serious pieces will be.