30 Years

Canada sent a selection mission to Uganda early in September, some two months before the November 7 deadline. Under this special pro­gramme, visas were issued to 6,175 Asians of various nationalities of whom some 4,200 were flown directly to Canada on flights financed by the Canadian Government. A further some 1,400 left at their own expense and arrived in Canada after stopping off to visit relatives en route (mostly in the U. K.). Among these some 5,600, who had arrived by 31 March about 1.370 were of undetermined nationality. Under new arrangements

Canada is accepting further Uganda Asians of undetermined nationality from the transit centres in Europe, and by 12 April, 183 had been admit­ted.

The Canadian intake, apart from being large, abounds in skilled professional people in a wide variety of fields representing a "windfall" in terms of expensively trained manpower. One evening in April 1973 the Asians hobnobbing at the New Canadians Services counselling office in Ottawa included a mechanical engineer who was working on gyroscope development for the Canadian Navy and Air Force, a pharmacologist holding a post­graduate diploma from London University doing advanced work in toxicology and environmental studies, and his wife, an agricultural chemist.

Sometimes several months were needed to place Asians of this calibre in their specialized sectors of activity, but by April 1973 thanks to the Department of Manpower and Immigration and to private orga­nizations, suitable jobs had been found for nearly all persons whose skills were immediately transferable, particularly technicians and accountants. For some professions, notably teachers, there have been prob­lems of accreditation and of domestic oversupply, and in these cases the Asians have been helped to undergo retraining. For example, women teachers are converting themselves into secretaries for whom there is a strong demand on the labour market. Intensive English courses have also been arranged for men who held managerial positions in Uganda, where most of their business was conducted in Gujerati and Swahili, in order to enable them to be placed in Canada in posts commensurate with their experience.

While the Government has had primary responsibility for settling the Asians, they have, in common with other immigrants, benefited from the activity of private organizations who have worked closely with the local branches of the Department of Manpower and Immigration. Representative of these is the New Canadians Services which is manned from early morning to 10 at night by highly capable volunteers, many of whom have had professional experience as social workers and all of whom are extremely knowl­edgeable in advising the Asians on all aspects of life in Canada, from how to find a better apart­ment to where to buy curry.

Mrs. Colleen Polsuns, the Chairman of the N.C.S., reports that in general the Canadian people have responded in an extremely positive way. "I believe all Canadians who have come in contact with the Asians From Uganda have been favourably impressed," she says. "To be sure, Canada has given them a chance to start a new life after a particularly trying ordeal and the Asians appreciate this. But they are by no means coming empty-handed. By their will to work and intelligence they are already enhancing and enriching Canada's multi-cultural society."

UNHCR is actively furthering the continued flow of Asians from the transit centres to Canada by contributing a substantial proportion of a Loan Fund being used to finance transatlantic flights organized by the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration.

Sadruddin V.

The Sadruddin V. family were selected in Uganda and came directly to Ottawa in September 1972. Mrs. V. and two of her three children­Shelina 7, and Azmina 5-arrived first and then her son, Farouk, 17, with her mother-in-law, and, finally, her husband. Before leaving Uganda they had lost everything of value. Mr. V. never refers to this difficult period in their lives. Soft-spoken but firm, he has concentrated all his energy and determination on proving his worth again in Canada ­ a challenge which, however formidable it might have seemed at first, he now appears to enjoy, for the tide has definitely turned in his favour.

In Kampala he had his own filling station. Now he is working his way up in the shipping department of a large typewriter company that offers much greater long-term scope. His wife, who in Kampala was accustomed to having servants, faced up immediately to realities of the do­it-yourself life in the New World and, in addition to taking care of the house and doing the cooking, she went out to work in an architectural supply firm. Her mother-in-law is too old to be a very active help at home but she can baby-sit which is a great boon. The third wage-earner in the family, young Farouk, has a clerical job in a department store.

With their combined incomes the V's are on their way to becoming firmly established. They live in a modest duplex apartment in the middle-class Bay Shore district, about 20 minutes from the centre of town. However, it takes a lot of money to maintain a household of six persons, and in common with many other Canadian housewives Mrs. V joined whole-heartedly in the recent meat boycott to protest against the rising cost of living.

As yet, the V's do not have a car. Travelling to work by bus, Sadruddin is away from 7 in the morning until 7 at night. His wife also takes the bus, but having less far to go, arrives home in time to prepare dinner.

Farouk's best friend is a boy about his age named Don, who lives a few doors away. In their leisure time they go over to the Bay Shore Country Club to play pool or basketball. Farouk, a lean 6' 2", plays guard on the Bay Shore team and was one of the top scorers in the past season.

Shelina goes to the local public school and is now doing well after overcoming initial difficulties caused by the fact that she was not used to studying in English. She is becoming immersed in all the usual activities that captivate a little Canadian girl, including the traditional sugaring­off party. This takes place in the spring when the maple sap begins to run, and a few weeks ago Shelina went off with her class for a day's excursion in the woods to see how maple syrup is made and, better yet, to taste it.

"From the very moment I arrived - a mother alone with two children in a strange country ­ everyone in Canada was so wonderful". Mrs. V recounts. "They told me not to worry, that my husband and the rest of the family would soon be joining us.

"The people in Manpower and New Canadians Services helped us find jobs and a nice place to live almost at once. We have really been very lucky. "

The V's have not abandoned their customs and traditions. Mrs. V. finds all the spices needed to cook the same pungent dishes her family relished in Kampala. At home the family still speak Gujerati and once a week they gather for worship with other members of their religion living in Ottwawa. But Canada is their home.

Gooli and Amirali A.

Gooli A. is a soft-spoken woman in her early thirties with a gentle manner that makes her singularly unobtrusive, yet in only a few months she has established herself as one of the most efficient secretaries in the Department of Secretary of State in Ottawa. "She was so good I 'stole' her from a colleague", explains her boss, Miss Jennifer McQueen, a young administrator in the Citizens Cultures section which seeks to protect and promote the cultural identity of the various ethnic groups that make up Canada's population.

"What impresses me most about her though," she continued, "is her cheerfulness. She is always smiling and good-natured and you would never guess that only a few months ago she, her husband and her little boy had to leave home and start life all over again in a strange country. "

Gooli had help in that her brother had already been in Canada for four years as a teacher in Ottawa Technical High School, and his assistance was of great value in the first few weeks after the A's arrived.

While Gooli's experience as a secretary in Barclay's Bank in Kampala led to her being hired by the Canadian Government almost immediately, it was more difficult to place her husband. He had owned and managed a small grocery store in Uganda, but his command of English was not as good as it might have been. Under the auspices of the Department of Manpower and Immigration he was enrolled in a retraining course at Algonquin College. He is making steady progress and in the relatively near future will be ready for a job in business.

"Everyone has been so kind in Canada", Gooli recalls, "not only in the office but in everyday life. I remember once soon after arriving I was in the supermarket near where we live and a woman I hadn't met before came up to ask how I was getting along. It was a cold winter day and she wondered how I was standing the change in climate. I told her I had to be especially careful about our little boy, Munaf. In Uganda he was used to running around with practically no clothes on, and here I have to bundle him up in snowsuits. I thought no more about the conversation but a half-hour later there was a knock on the door and the same woman, whose name I didn't even know, appeared with her arms full of warm clothing for Munaf. How can anyone help being grateful to wonderful people like this?"

Gooli and Amirali live, with Munaf-now 18 months old- in a neat one-bedroom apartment in a modern high-rise development outside Ottawa. Especially with her husband not drawing a salary at present, Gooli keeps very close track of her daily expenditure. The one service she does not have to pay for is baby-sitting. Every morning she leaves Munaf with Violette, a warm-hearted French-Canadian woman who lives in the next building. Violette's own son is grown up and studying medicine abroad. "Munaf takes his place," Violette explains. "Looking after him is really a treat for me."

Mrs. Malek M.

Mrs. M. was widowed in Uganda during the turmoil that preceded the November 7 deadline. When she arrived in Ottawa on October 25 with her three-year-old daughter, Jameela, she was grief stricken and completely bereft. She had been a school teacher, but her credentials were not recognized, and there is in any case an oversupply of teachers in Ontario. Thus she was-and will be for some time--completely dependent on aid from the Manpower and Immigration Department and the New Canadians Services. The latter was particularly helpful in finding a room for her and her child with a Canadian family. Mrs. M. cannot speak highly enough of the kindness of the Peter Harkness family and the way in which they have adopted her as part of their own household.

This has helped greatly to offset her loneliness. Soon after her arrival, Mrs M. was advised to take a secretarial course, which she is now doing under the auspices of the Department of Manpower and Immigration, and by August she will be in a position to hold down a full-time job. Till then she will continue to draw $63 per week from the Government.

Mrs. M's position as a woman alone with a child in a strange country after a particularly cruel loss, was especially vulnerable but the welcome she has received in Canada has given her a new lease on life, and she is now facing the future with confidence.