Tuesday, 12 November, 2019
7:00 p.m. Stonehaven Apartments
The Modern Immigrant's Experience
A personal account by a former television journalist who immigrated to Canada from Russia
Leaving the country that you always called home means you also leave behind family, friends, career and all things familiar. Making that decision was not easy – but trying to hold on to things that gave comfort was also not easy. When one leaves a homeland in the midst of conflict, there is no time to organize belongings that hold memories, but I was able to bring with me the few precious items I gathered that are connected to our family’s past and add to the feel of home here, so far away.
Family photos have become precious as they connect generations. An ashtray that sat on my great-grandfather’s mantel is something to pass on. As the years go by, I become more and more connected to my new country, and feel more comfortable in my new home. It is very comforting to know that I managed to have things in my house that travelled across time and continents to help me remember my motherland, cherish the childhood memories, and remind my family of our life before. Passed on to my children and grandchildren, these items will add to their sense of identity and help them to explore their roots.
Irina Khetsouriani is a former television journalist from the Republic of Georgia (former USSR).
She arrived in Canada in 1993 with her husband and 11-year-old daughter when Georgia was still engaged in civil war. Irina left behind her home, her career, her family and friends, not knowing when or if she might see them again.
In Canada, as do most immigrants, Irina and her husband faced challenges of isolation, language , cultural shock, employment, and nostalgia. However, in spite of all the problems, they were excited to be building a completely new life. Through their own efforts and with the help and support of Canadians, the family overcame many difficulties and made this country their new home. Canada is a country they love, are proud of, and feel lucky to have.
Currently Irina works at the Continuing and Community Education Department of the Ottawa Catholic School Board, and with her big multicultural she family lives in Kanata.