November 18, 2002
This week, we have a story written by Collins Taban Okeny, from Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Collins and his family are originally from Sudan. He works nights and takes literacy classes in the daytime at Parkland Regional College, in Yorkton.
After long struggles, we left Africa on July 12 at 11:00 p.m. from Kenyalla International Airport in Kenya. Then we arrived in Yorkton on July 14 after several stops.
Right on our first landing in Canada - Montreal, things began to appear different. The sun itself appeared in a different direction. Everybody looked different and spoke different. Trees were shorter and of a different variety. All these differences contributed to a feeling that there were different people in this land. I was still very happy because the differences were not a threat to our lives.
We took off the following morning at 7:30 after spending the night in Quebec. We arrived at Toronto Airport. We were highly welcomed by the immigration staff. We had a lovely discussion with them as if we knew each other before. However, it made me recover a sense of life and freedom which I had had some decades ago. Shortly, we were connected to another airplane for Regina in Saskatchewan.
Three hours after taking off from Toronto, we rested on the beautiful prairies in Saskatchewan, at Regina Airport. An immigration car was there before we landed waiting to bring us to the office. I was surprised to see a lady give us a big smile and call me by name. My kids thought that maybe I was once in Canada. I could see a sign of happiness on their faces though they were tired.
Not more than 30 minutes in their office, two gigantic men entered. They were almost of the same heights, but different sizes and ages. They both called me by name before the officer conducted her friendly introduction. I afterwards learned they were members of my sponsors, sent purposely to bring us to our last destination - Yorkton.
We stayed for a few minutes with them while the officer was doing her necessary work on our documents. She added more to qualify our staying in the province.
That same afternoon, after our approval was handed to our sponsors, we entered their van and it took us 90 minutes to reach Yorkton.
It was a beautiful day. The sun was very clear in the sky, the wind was blowing slowly, birds were singing happily and the traffic was busy. It was a nice day for the citizens but for us it was somehow cool.
Due to the long trip, the children were tired. Food was brought. Instead some of them were crying, calling the names of other kids they left in Africa. They seemed isolated and missing their fellow friends and relatives. Their mother and I were very happy despite the coolness we learned about before coming and the short hours of experiencing it. Everybody who came to see us that time or later were friendly. However, we felt more like visitors but not strangers because the friendly manners we saw beyond our expectations.
[This story was taken with permission, from the Parkland Regional College - Literacy Services website, under Submitted Writings.]