Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

One mother’s love knows no bounds

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She arrived here from Guatemala 20 years ago, with her husband and three small children to escape the political persecution resulting from her husband’s employment.


All she had known, her family and friends, were left behind so that Elba Martinez could bring her children to a safe place to grow up.


They believed her husband would be able to remain in the legal field and she could find work as a secretary, so employment was not a concern. But upon arrival they discovered neither would be able to utilize their previous employment experience, so starting again would mean domestic jobs and a small apartment in the downtown area.


Not to be discouraged, they set about finding a place to live and jobs for them both. What they had not expected was the openly-spoken racism towards them and their children. It was an attitude that would put their daughter in harm’s way once again and make Martinez doubt her decision to bring them to Canada.


But a mother’s love is resilient and she was determined to make their dreams come true. So she soldiered on never once losing faith they would one day own a home and her children would find peace and prosperity here. They were able to eventually move from their apartment, to a brand new town house.


Martinez had saved for months so the children could have new bikes to ride when they moved. This was to be their home for the next 15 years, where they voluntarily cut grass and shovelled snow in an attempt to belong.


They left, never being embraced by the community but once again she is hopeful a new beginning will be found in their newly purchased home. It has been four years since they moved and she is still hopeful, but her deep faith has given her the courage to believe everything will work out.


I watch her eyes mist over when she remembers the loving family she has rarely seen and the memories of her life back home. Still a victim of racism, she displays no anger, no resentment, but is comforted by the knowledge her family is growing with new spouses and grandchildren — each of them freer then they would have been and happier then she could have imagined.


Yet her face still displays the confusion that comes with wondering just how long a person has to live here to no longer be referred to as "the immigrant, who is taking our jobs?"


I have to admit I feel ashamed that this unassuming woman who has shown such grace and integrity would be anything but embraced by all who have the pleasure of meeting her. I want to sooth my guilt by assuring myself she has just met a few bad apples and we will all strive to show her she is a valued asset to us and this country.


Pam Hayward is a community correspondent for St. Norbert. You can contact her at pgremple@shaw.ca.

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