Although the people in Canada are generally accepting of diverse newcomers, it was hard adapting to life in Canada because, back home, it’s all one culture. As a result, Canada’s immense diversity was eminently shocking for my parents. The familiarity and connectedness that my parents felt in Bosnia had been weakened; nevertheless they made new connections in Canada. Those feelings of connectedness and congruence between people was what they missed the most about Bosnia. Speaking Bosnian was customary back home, but in Canada, not many people speak Bosnian so it felt a little out of place at times to speak our native language. Their culture, in other words, did not feel as strong in Canada as it was in Bosnia.
It was shocking how difficult the adjustment process was, but it is impossible to predict how strenuous or effortless the process may be. For my parents, they adapted to the ways of life over time and eventually, life in Canada became comfortable. Since my parents came to Canada together, they learned and adapted together and became each other’s support system. I would say that throughout their entire immigration experience, nobody helped them out more than they helped each other.
The largest adjustment that my parents had to make was leaving family behind in Bosnia. Although my parents were excited to begin their new life in Canada, they could not help but feel guilty for leaving behind the remaining family and friends. However, these same people never failed to reassure my parents that they were making the right decision. It was an adaptation for not only my parents, but also for their friends and family. Not only did my parents have to adjust to living without their closest companions, everyone left residing in Bosnia also had to accept the loss. Technology was not as advanced back then as it is today, so it was difficult keeping in touch with those back home. Despite all of this, my parents have been able to return to Bosnia and rekindle the friendships that got left behind.
The greatest joy in coming to Canada has been the plethora of opportunities that my parents would have never been offered back in Bosnia. My parents used to have a myopic view of the world and what they could achieve, but living in Canada has changed that. In Bosnia, my parents settled with an unstable economic and political environment that seldom produced enough opportunities for a handful of families. In Canada, my parents were welcomed with job opportunities, educational support and funding, and most importantly, a home to raise their family. My parents’ biggest hope in coming to Canada was the opportunity to provide a good life for their children. Despite how long and demanding the immigration process was, my parents would not want to live anywhere else. For anyone thinking of immigration, the best advice is to trust the process and have faith in what is to come.
Please note that certain facts have been altered for anonymity This story is a collaborative effort between Raelynn Tkachuk and Amela Babovic