My family is originally from South America. Like me, both my parents were born in Argentina and have strong family ties there. But when I was young, as the economy remained unsettled and work opportunities became scarce, talks of moving to Canada began.
My father was a welder and at the time, there was a need for people in the trades in Canada. As well, this country seemed to offer more opportunities and a better education for me. Like many immigrants, my parents made the difficult decision to uproot us from our home and life in the hopes of building a better and brighter future.
But a permanent move to a new country is never an easy one. The culture shock, the language barrier, and the task of re-establishing ourselves as a family proved to be difficult. My parents longed for their friends and family, as did I.
It took some time to adjust to a new place and start over. A positive attitude and a stubborn determination to succeed for my sake were the only things keeping my parents going.
As a child, it’s impossible to understand the sacrifices and hard choices parents make for their children. Only now, years later, as a mother myself, am I beginning to understand.
I can’t pinpoint the exact day or month when we finally adapted to this new Canadian environment. In some ways, I think we still are. But I do remember the start of our first summer as being the first time my mother was happy and life started feeling normal again.
We had been in Canada for about three months and summer was upon us. Living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), we began to explore. The GTA has a number of free, family-friendly activities, events, and beaches. We had picnics at lakefront parks; we visited the Toronto Islands, and swam in transparent cool water at Crystal Beach. I remember how surprised my parents were at the cleanliness of public places and the kindness of people when we asked for directions in broken English.
And that’s what we did to move forward. We created new memories and began a new journey to build our life and our family in a new country. My humble beginnings in Canada are a constant reminder of how far I’ve come in my own journey as a mother, a writer, an editor, and an educator. With master’s degrees in education and journalism, I have worked in various facets of the children’s industry for more than a decade.
Over the next few months, I will be writing about issues that affect new Canadian families, including making the most of your children’s education, enjoying life in new communities, and navigating cultural issues around kids and parenting in a new country. I hope you’ll find this a place of useful information, as well as a place to share your own experiences raising your children in Canada.
Until next time,
Owlkids Contributing Editor Natalia Diaz was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and writes about education and family issues. She lives in Markham, Ontario, with her family.