Submitted by Sharmarke Dubow, Facilitator of Refugee Volunteer Support Services
I was so excited. I couldn’t sleep – I couldn’t stop thinking about what the following morning would hold for me. I’ve never looked forward to July 1st with so much anticipation, and not only because Canada would be celebrating 150 years. No, it meant so much more to me. On July 1, 2017, I, Sharmarke Dubow, became an official Canadian citizen.
Getting my citizenship means stability, safety and belonging, rights and responsibilities, and finally a place to call home. As a refugee, I am grateful to have found a home in Canada. I will work hard to continue making Canada a better place – a place that I hope will welcome more refugees.
I also recognize as a new Canadian citizen that I am a guest on this beautiful land… land that rightfully belongs to the First Nations and that we are all settlers – including those of us who came here as newcomers or migrants, either in this generation or in generations past, whether voluntary or as a result of war, persecution or conflict.
I am proud to have been part of organizing World Refugee Day for the last several years. It is important to me that as a community we recognize the strength, resiliency and contributions of refugees in Victoria and in the rest of Canada. It was a privilege to speak at Victoria City Hall’s proclamation of World Refugee Day to share the work we do at the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria and my personal story as a staff member.
As of today, there are 65.5 million people displaced, including more than 25 million refugees. Each of those numbers represents a story – a person, family, struggle, beauty, culture, knowledge, strength – and holds a lifetime of experiences. For more than two decades, I have been one of those numbers that people speak of when discussing the refugee crisis. I have been displaced since I was 8 years old and on July 1, 2017, it was the first time that I felt that I belong somewhere and have a country that I can call my own.