Black History Month
Pamella Mubeza is a past resident of Carty House. We are honoured to share some of her story here, as a way to celebrate Black History month in Canada. Thank You, Pamella, for your inspiration!
Pamella is a feminist and human rights activist, born in a small suburb of the capital of Burundi. She is the 10th child of a large family. Having become a single mother in 2004, she is Founder of the AMC Association of Single Moms for Peace and Development, an organization which fights against homophobic and discriminatory practices against women, in particular the rights to education of teenage mothers and the action of citizens of women. She also founded the “Our rights Our choice” project, for free menstrual hygiene products as well as the economic empowerment of women and political participation of women. She is also the President of the Burundian Alliance of Human Rights Activists and Defenders, which advocates freedom of expression for Burundian activists inside and outside the country. She has studied clinical and social psychology and obtained a master’s degree in conflict study from Saint Paul University in 2018.
1. How was it that Canada became the country you landed in?
Canada is known worldwide as a welcoming host country; in my opinion it is the first country in the world whose political system acknowledges that women are people. I miss Burundi terribly, it is a beautiful country where the climate remains around 20 degrees all year round, and where all the fruits grow in abundance. But unfortunately, thousands of us have been fleeing the country in a cyclical fashion for more than 50 years. Leaving one’s country involuntarily leaves a bitter taste, perhaps for life.
2. What do you remember about your first few weeks in Canada?
I could hardly understand English, and although I am French-speaking, I could not understand Quebec French! I remember once switching back to English when I could not understand the French. 😊
3. What were your biggest fears upon arrival?
To be separated from my children for a long time; I didn’t know how long the immigration process would take; my fear was well-founded because I am still waiting for one of my children to join me. The second fear was to face the snow, but I now love all Canadian seasons.
4. What were your biggest surprises in Canada?
The smile. It was surprising to see unknown people who show a smile when you meet their eyes. I had to learn how to smile back in that way!
5. What did you enjoy most about Carty House?
I would like to say that all refugee women should have a place like Carty House. Why? Because it is a place that has everything to help us understand the Canadian way of life, to adapt and to better integrate. And so many volunteers from many walks of life that are willing to help!
6. What types of support at Carty House were most important to you?
Refugees are lost when they arrive here. Carty House is a home, a haven, that allows us to share our pain, it helps us to hold on, to know that we are not alone. Before coming to Canada, I was a mother, a wife, a sister. I had relatives and friends. Like most refugee women, I have since had to learn a new culture, try to integrate, learn a new language, develop new skills, manage the snow, find new friends, learn what is frowned upon and what is good, get to know and enjoy Canadian cuisine, prepare a turkey, realize that a hamburger is not a luxury item, learn to trust the police, tell the doctor where I are really hurting, and live with missing my friends and our moms terribly while realizing that there may be no way to ever see her again.
7. How did Carty House help integrate in Canada?
Believe me, when you “parachute” directly into a new country, you will face problems you never had to deal with before. Carty House gives everyone a chance to experience a new life, even though we are women who have come from many different places and bring our own challenges. Carty House taught me how to grocery shop, to organize my mail, and especially how to live in a community. I learned that a good Canadian is strong and knows how to handle a shovel!
8. What kinds of things are you involved with now?
I am involved in the feminist struggle and I am in many community activities. My mission is to contribute to the advancement of women in the world. I have also enhanced my degree by taking several technical courses and a master’s degree in Conflict Studies.
9. What are your dreams for the future?
One day, to see my whole family reunited. It affects me emotionally and physically. There is nothing harder in life than a mother separated from her children for any reason. Secondly, I would like to work hard so that women can enjoy their rights. I am ready to serve Canada!
10. What would you like to say to those who are considering supporting Carty House?
You are not wasting your time and money. Carty House is a very special home. You will not find any other place that has the characteristics of Carty House. The residents call it a haven of peace, a home, where “angels” are always ready to support us. Your support is important. We are grateful.