Imagine having to rebuild your life in a new country. You are not a native speaker of the official languages. The food tastes different and your favourite ingredients are hard to find. The customs are unfamiliar and you feel uncertain in social settings.
What would it take for you to begin to feel at home in this new country? What do you think would give you a sense of belonging?
For the students supported by WUSC’s Student Refugee Program (SRP), they don’t have to imagine. They tell us, it’s often the small things that make a big difference: a smile, a message of welcome, a friendly conversation, a helping hand, words of support, an invitation to dinner, even a stuffed moose!
In their own words, they say:
“Canada makes me feel like I belong every day. The helping hands I receive. The smiling faces I meet. The learning opportunities I get. And much more.”
– Aya Zawit
“Canada provided me with […] a peaceful place to call home, freedom to be the best version of myself and a scholarship to quench my thirst for higher studies.”
– Mo Maalim
“As I looked at my certificate of citizenship, tears streamed down my face because for the first time in my life, it felt like a load had been lifted: I had a nationality!”
– Delphine Umutoni
“Moments like when my roommate’s family invited me for my very first Thanksgiving dinner […] made me feel like this is a country and a place where I can start a life and a family.”
– Mohammad Al Masalma
“The moment I stepped on Canadian soil I felt I belonged. […] Now that I have a family of my own, I feel completely Canadian, proud and free.”
– Charlotte Bapima
In honour of the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation, we joined the Honourable Senator Ratna Omidvar, in partnership with Universities Canada, to create 150 Stories of Belonging. Through this initiative, we invited our SRP students and alumni to share their story of when they first felt like they belonged in Canada.
We invite you to read more Stories of Belonging at https://150.wusc.ca/. And remember the small things that you can do today to help a newcomer feel more at home in Canada.
Have you experienced a moment of belonging?
Maybe you don’t have to imagine what it is like to rebuild your life in a new country because you, too, have resettled in Canada. If that is the case, welcome! We hope you have found your moment of belonging. We invite you to share it on social media using #StoriesofBelonging and #Canada150.
Are you a former SRP student and want to share your moment of belonging with us? We would love to hear from you!