What struck me the most at our Leadership Winnipeg class (and still sticks with me close to a week later as I write this) is that I am incredibly lucky to have been born in Canada. I haven’t traveled abroad much; my only trip outside of North America was to England in February this year. Even then, England is pretty similar to Canada in many ways in that they are safe secure democracies.
Being born in Canada has led to a wealth of opportunities for me. I’ve never really had to worry too much about my own personal safety, as we are far removed from most wars and conflicts. At no point in my life have I had to worry that my hospital, school or street to the grocery store might get blown up by a bomb. Almost everyone spoke the same language as me, and I’ve never had to sleep outside unless I was camping.
However this past class, and in particular hearing Yahya Samatar’s personal journey made me realize just how lucky I have been.
I studied political science in university so I am familiar with a lot of the terminology and trends associated with refugees, and you see the occasional media story on it. Beyond that though, I’ve never heard a refugee’s story until I heard Yahya’s.
Yahya is a Leadership Winnipeg alumnus, and he shared his story with our class while we were at Welcome Place. I had heard of Welcome Place, but had never been. I’ve never needed to use the services they provide, so I’ve never felt the need to go.
Yahya came to Welcome Place shortly after crossing the border into Canada. His multi-year journey to get out of his home country was simply awe inspiring to me. I would support a GoFundMe page to make his story into a movie or book, it is that incredible. There were certainly more struggles than successes along the way in coming to Canada, and he is doing great now.
I’m sure everyone who has stayed at Welcome Place has a personal journey similar to Yahya’s. I can’t for a second comprehend what they went through to come to this great country of ours. I know Leadership Winnipeg is supposed to be focused on our great city, but this past session gave me a much greater appreciation for how lucky we are to call Winnipeg home, but I’m also lucky as I get to call Canada home as well.