My passion for advocating for the defenseless began when I was eight years old. We came to Canada when I was three, fleeing the aftermath of the Hutus against the Tutsis in the Rwandan genocide. When we arrived in Canada we lived in public housing. In the public housing community, there were many single mothers, like mine, who only spoke their mother tongue, and struggled to obtain various resources. My mother, being one of those women, yet having the advantage of speaking French, still managed to find it difficult to receive the support that she needed from government funded organizations. By the age of nine, I had become my mother’s translator and helper when it came to all things concerning legal documents. I would sit with her at the dinner table after school and help her make her way through the burdensome amount of paperwork required for immigration and citizenship. In those moments, I would always have a dictionary on hand, knowing I was too young to fully comprehend the big and complex words such as “constitution.” As time went on, I would help many of the Rwandese single mothers with their documents. At the time, I did not fully understand the importance of my actions, yet I knew that I was doing something good and I was being helpful.
As for my mother, she had dreamt of living in a country where opportunities and freedom are prioritized. As many immigrants know, Canada is a country that values those qualities. At twenty-eight years old, with a three-year-old daughter, my mother came to start a new life here. “I came for the guarantee of safety – within and outside of Canada – for my children. Canadians who were born here do not realize the opportunity they have by simply being a citizen of this nation. Not only are their opportunities, within the country, vast and rich, but also outside of Canada as well. Travel does not require a visa, and for young people, they are not limited in their academic journey.” At a young age, me and my brothers were taught that the second most important thing in life is education. In the words of Malcom X, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today.” (X.Malcom, 1964)
This, coupled with my passion for helping other minorities, led to my academic achievements as well as professional achievements. In 2021, I completed an Honors in Criminology and a Minor in Women and Gender studies at the University of Ottawa, becoming a first-generation graduate from a Canadian academic institution. Moreover, I have been fortunate to be part of the ‘People Matter Project’, which is a program that focuses on community outreach. So far, we have had success in organizing a benefit concert for Ukrainian refugees, conducting a food drive that included the participation of community members, and a ‘Family Fun Day’ that encouraged individuals to come with their family to enjoy various festive activities.
To this day I will be forever grateful for all the sacrifices my mother made to ensure a better life for her family.
Immigrant Women Services Ottawa
219 Argyle Avenue, Suite 400