‘It’s not just all about celebrating diversity’: book of stories from more than 20 immigrants being released

April 4, 2017

By CBC News |

Immigrating to a new country can be a juxtaposition of opposing feelings — gratitude, loss, relief, loneliness — and a new book that launches in Vancouver tonight captures the emotionally complex journey of immigrant women in Canada.

“Wherever I Find Myself” is a collection of stories from more than 20 women, describing the challenges of settling into a new home. Miriam Matejova, editor of the book, moved to Canada from Slovakia and said the experience is complicated.

“I think that there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about immigrants,” Matejova said.

When she moved to Canada, Matejova told CBC’s The Early Edition host Rick Cluff, she often felt estranged.

“I didn’t think that people understood why I was sad sometimes,” Matejova said. “I had a hard time explaining why I frown sometimes or why I don’t want to talk about my country and especially why I feel lonely.”

Mixed feelings

Loneliness was the hardest emotion to explain, Matejova said, but a common experience highlighted in the book.

One of the book’s contributing writers, Abeer Yusuf, said she had a strong feeling of loneliness that still hasn’t completely gone away.

“Research suggests that when migrants first come to Canada, it takes about five years to be acculturated to the country and feel like you belong,” said Yusuf, who is originally from India.

“I’m still in year three so I still feel loneliness and I still end lots of days in tears.”

The book aims to portray the complexity of the immigrant experience, in a country that is renowned for its cultural diversity.

“Of course, it’s a privilege to be here for us as new migrants but it’s not just all about celebrating diversity,” said Yusuf.

“It’s about moving beyond victimhood and seeing immigrants as victims.”

“Wherever I Find Myself” launches tonight at 7 p.m. at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

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