Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Faces of Africa: Former African residents share their first impressions of Manitoba

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The Free Press talks to former African residents, now living in Manitoba, who share their first impressions of our province.

Click on any marker below to read an immigration story.  Use the controls at left on the map to zoom in and out. Click and drag to move around the map surface.  Full text of the stories is beneath the map.

 

Burundi / Louise Simbandumwe

Occupation: Community economic development

How did you arrive in Canada?: As a privately sponsored refugee, United Church Presbytery, in 1979 with her family to Saskatchewan.

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: December 1993

First impression: Amazing and incredibly committed social justice activists.


Botswana / Mavis Matenge

Occupation: Student, Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Manitoba, Arthur V. Mauro Center for Peace and Justice

How did you arrive in Canada?: Student Visa, Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship recipient

When did you arrive in Winnipeg? January 2008, right in the heart of the winter

First impression: Mixed impression -- a city that depicts a cultural mosaic, has an impressive active civil society, has freezing winters but is definitely home to warm, vibrant summers and friendly Winnipeggers, and a city with its own challenges such as some of the visible socio-economic disparities.

 

Democratic Republic of Congo / Yvette Nabulizi

Occupation: Grade 10 student, part time hip-hop dance instructor

How did you arrive in Canada?: Government-sponsored refugee

When did you arrive in Winnipeg? June, 2005

First impression: "So many white people! Everywhere you went, you'd see non-dark people."


Egypt / Fr. Marcos Farag

Occupation: Coptic Orthodox Christian Priest

How did you arrive in Canada? Immigrated as a biomedical engineer (before priesthood)

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: Jan. 3, 2004

First impression: "When I arrived I found it a calm and cold, small city, compared to Toronto where I spent 2.5 years before being a priest and moving here. I see Winnipeg now growing a lot more quicker than before."

 

Eritrea / Efrem Teklemariam

Occupation: Engineer: manager of water resources engineering for Manitoba Hydro; member of the academic review committee with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba; on the boards of the Immigrant Centre and International Educated Engineers Qualification

How did you arrive in Canada?: Immigrated to Canada under the federal skilled worker class.

When did you arrive in Winnipeg? November, 1989

First impression: "I landed in Canada with mixed emotions, a bit of excitement but mostly fear for the unknown. But it was not so long before I felt Canada was my new home. With the support of the International Centre (now Immigrant Centre), relatives and Winnipeggers, we were able to settle in no time."

 

Ethiopia / Bemnet Hailegiorgis

Occupation: Building program assistant at IRCOM and volunteers with Pregnancy and Family Support Services and Ethiopian Society of Winnipeg

How did you arrive in Canada?: Privately sponsored refugee.

When did you arrive in Winnipeg? Oct. 16, 2006

First impression: "How the city is small, how the people are reserved and how the weather is unusual comparing to where I came from. As the months passed by, I realized Winnipeg is one of the cities where I can call home, how the community stand together to support and even if the weather is cold the people in it are warm with loving heart."

 

Ghana / Michael Baffoe

Occupation: Professor of social work, University of Manitoba; has volunteered as refugee advocacy group organizer in Montreal; served on Canadian Council for Refugees board; co-founder and member of the think-tank Manitoba Institute for African Canadian Affairs

How did you arrive in Canada?: A refugee claimant in Montreal in 1987.

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: August, 2006.

First impression: A bit quieter and more relaxing than Montreal; "People are much more friendly befitting the provincial logo Friendly Manitoba."

 

Kenya / Nathaniel Ondiaka

Occupation: CEO of Handikwah Consultants; interpreter and health-care professional; served on the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority advisory council and as president of the Kenyan Association of Manitoba.

How did you arrive in Canada?: Permanent resident, skilled worker class with wife and two children.

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: Evening of Oct. 26, 2004

First impression: "A well lit, brown city (in seasonal transition), a warm and friendly welcome at the International Centre and sociable people."


Liberia / Ade Kossigbo

Occupation: Nurse.

How did you arrive in Canada?: A refugee sponsored by a Winnipeg church

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: July, 1993

First impression: "It was rainy. It was cold, but it was my little bit of heaven. What a relief it was from the refugee camp (in Ghana)."

 

Malawi / Roselyn Thandiwe Nkhata

Occupation: Key worker at St. Amant Centre; on the board of the citizens advisory committee of Correctional Service of Canada

How did you arrive in Canada?: Student visa

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: August, 2000

First impression: "I got here at around 9 p.m., and the sun was still up. That was very strange to me. I was, like, 'Does it get dark at night?'"


Morocco / Youssef Bezzahou

Occupation: Finance and accounting professor at Université de Saint-Boniface; volunteer member of parents committee at Tache School.

How did you arrive in Canada?: With family as independent immigrants

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: March 2000.

First impression: "I was greeted by a very welcoming and heartwarming community in a huge white and cold blanket."


Mozambique / Casimiro Nhussi

Occupation: Artistic director, choreographer, musician with NAfro Dance Productions; volunteers as a performer at the Folklorama African pavilion.

How did you arrive in Canada?: Married a Canadian and became a permanent resident

When did you arrive in Winnipeg? 1997

First impression: Nice place.


Nigeria / Florence Okwudili

Occupation: Legal assistant; health care aide; volunteers as Folklorama's Africa pavilion co-ordinator; on the board of Winnipeg's Citizens Equity Committee.

How did you arrive in Canada?: Came with husband came via the provincial nominee program

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: "Feb. 18, 2000 on a cold, cold winter night!"

First impression: "Very beautiful city, quiet. People are to themself but very friendly."


Rwanda / Emelda Iradukunda

Occupation: Student at the University of Winnipeg; volunteers as a math and sciences tutor for high school kids.

How did you arrive in Canada?: Government-sponsored refugee

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: April, 2007, before the trees began to bud and the grass returned to life

First impression: "There's no green here."

 

Senegal / Waly Ben Maréga

Occupation: Business administration student; president of the U of Saint-Boniface Students' Union; Manitoba Senegalese Association

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: 2008

First impression: "The courteousness of Winnipeggers... Winnipeg is one of the coldest cities in Canada, but Winnipeggers are amongst the most warm-hearted people in the world."

 

Sierra Leone / Randolph Moinina Gorvie

Occupation: Retired provincial civil servant; volunteer president of Harambee Centres Canada, Manitoba region

How did you arrive in Canada?: Student visa

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: September, 1971

First impression: "People were friendly and ready to help a newcomer."

 

Somalia / Daadir Faarax Yare

Occupation: Working in security at the University of Winnipeg, saving to study international relations; the founder and volunteer of the Winnipeg Somali Youth League

How did you arrive in Canada?: Privately sponsored refugee

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: December, 2007

First impression: "Oh, my God -- the snow. It was freezing. It was too much."

 

South Africa / Dr. J.J. Jacobs

Occupation: Family physician

How did you arrive in Canada?: Immigrated for work

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: Feb. 21, 2001

First impression: "It's very cold. We went from plus 35 (Celsius) to minus 35 when we arrived."

 

South Sudan / David Mabior Atem

Occupation: Academic advisor at the University of Winnipeg; board member of the Winnipeg Family Centre

How did you arrive in Canada?: Government-sponsored refugee

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: 2001

First impression: "The level of hospitality among Winnipeggers in general."

 

Tanzania / Rehman Abdulrehman

Occupation: Clinical psychologist and professor, department of clinical health psychology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba; volunteer president elect of Manitoba Psychological Society; creative director of Humantree Inc.

How did you arrive in Canada?: Immigrated as a child with his parents.

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: 1982

First impression: "We arrived in winter. To a kid, the snow was like a storybook."

 

Uganda / Hamza Mbabaali

Occupation: Employment Facilitator; started Folklorama's Africa pavilion in 1997 and still volunteers as a cook at it.

How did you arrive in Canada?: Sponsored, with his wife Fatumah Mbabaali, by the federal government

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: June 20, 1984

First impression: "So many senior citizens, and all those we talked to were not living with their children!"

 

Zimbabwe / Gertrude Hambira

Occupation: Human rights activist; was head of the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers' Union of Zimbabwe, exiled for exposing the torture and abuse of farm workers and farm owners hurt by land reforms

How did you arrive in Canada?: Refugee

When did you arrive in Winnipeg?: January 2011

First impression: "Cold."

-- By Kevin Rollason. courtesy of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, supplemented by Winnipeg Free Press archives.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 18, 2012 ??65535

History

Updated on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 1:20 PM CST: Adds map

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