GUEST COLUMN: A refugee and immigrant story

GUEST COLUMN: A refugee and immigrant story

Couple chose Canada after postwar changes in Europe

It was a cool crisp morning when the ship disembarked. A tall thin young man took his first steps on new ground.

Overwhelmed by emotion, his legs collapsed from under him.

As he fell to the ground he began to weep uncontrollably. He wept from joy and fear. He wept for all he had lost and all to be gained.

His journey was a long one. He had escaped the clutches of war in his homeland to the safety of a monastery in Hungary where he awaited safe passage to a new unknown land.

Even though the world declared “War Over” almost a decade earlier, all was not safe.

His country had a different name now, Yugoslavia, and a different position in the world.

His family had been torn apart from years of war, some lost forever. It really wasn’t a choice but a means of survival to leave.

If he had to think about it, he probably would have stayed because he was too broken to decide.

She was so young, only a few months earlier she was a child. Her short life had been bleak and laborious. There was no other option.

Education was an inconvenience, an obstacle from the day to day struggle of the chores of taming the land, growing food for her brothers and sisters.

Their only comfort, they were all together.

She knew, in the depth of her soul that her life was not here.

So when a stranger came to her small village, she prayed.

He had made a small life for himself in Canada, his new homeland, but he was alone. He desperately wanted the life he had witnessed around him, a home, a family, an education.

All of this was possible in Canada but was not easy.

He missed his family in Europe.

His father was gone and he had not seen his mother or siblings for a long time. He had worked hard enough and long enough to purchase a ticket home.

Their meeting was not the story like that from Harlequin.

It was an understanding that they would create a good life for themselves and their future children. A life better than their own.

Their children would have laughter and fond memories.

He went ahead to prepare the way for her. She had never left her country, her village, her family. She boarded a train with papers in hand. The papers allowed to move about most of Europe.

She thought to herself, the letters “Mrs.” gave her permission she did not have three days before.

She experienced her first night alone in a hotel room in Frankfort with modern plumbing, a soft bed and a view of the city.

Her heart was filled with wonderment and fear. So many questions and scenarios in her mind.

Years later, they had all they ever hoped for.

He was a trained electrician with a secure job at Canadian Pacific Railway. She became a successful business woman with several employees under her care.

They had a family and a home. They traveled to the Okanagan every summer. They spent their weekends with friends. They gave back to the community and country that offered them so much.

It wasn’t always easy, in fact there were many obstacles. Not everyone was always kind to them.

They forged ahead because they could. They taught their children hard work, how to pick up after themselves, and to always be kind.

They were the best of examples of being a Canadian.

Who are these refugees and immigrants? I refer to them as Mom and Dad.

Mirjana Komljenovic is a Summerland resident and a grateful first-generation Canadian.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, updates British Columbians about COVID-19 at a press conference earlier this week. (B.C. Government image)
B.C.’s 1st case of COVID-19 confirmed a year ago today

Here’s a look at some of the key dates in the province’s fight against the novel coronavirus

Downtown Revelstoke. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
COVID slows in Revelstoke to 2 new cases

Data is from Jan. 17 to 23

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

Beard Growing Contests were popular in Revelstoke as far back as the first Golden Spike Days Celebration in July of 1944. In this staged publicity photo, local barber Clarence Sheedy is seen with contestants Toby Belinski, two unknown men, Elio Pradolini, possibly Nelson Huckle, and Al McAskill. (Revelstoke Museum and Archives photo 348)
Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Jan. 28

A look at local history as recorded by the newspaper

A moose and her calf attempting to cross the Jordan River June 22, 2020, as seen from the Jordan River trail. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
Letter: One year later Jordan River area still at risk

A Revelstoke company is one year in to their two year temporary permit for exploration in the area

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Vancouver Island woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny rescue operation

Amy McLaughlin has rescued more than 400 bunnies, pushing for the capacity to help more

Grad student Marisa Harrington and her supervisor Lynneth Stuart-Hill say preliminary results from a study into the affects of stress on hospital nurses show an impact on sleep and heart variability. (Courtesy of Marisa Harrington)
University of Victoria study shows stress impact on B.C. nurses

Stress may be impacting sleep, heart health of hospital nurses in Victoria region

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Summerland’s second hospital was built in 1914. The land, known as Hospital Hill, was donated by the Summerland Development. At the time, the cost of the hospital was $5,996. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum.)
Summerland hospital served community during previous pandemic

Hospital, constructed n 1914, was in use during the 1918 Spanish flu

Crown prosecutors have stayed attempted murder charges against Kelowna’s Jesse Pez. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man accused in Kelowna Halloween stabbing has attempted murder charge stayed

The Crown only proceeds with charges when evidence provides ‘a substantial likelihood of conviction’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP released this photo on Jan. 27, 2021 of Terrance Jones, 40, a Caucasian man with a closely shaved head, brown eyes, dirty blonde or brown hair, and a thin mustache and beard. The inside of his right arm is covered in tattoos, including one of a face. (Kamloops RCMP photo)
RCMP want public’s help to locate Shuswap man wanted on charge of attempted murder

Sicamous man was arrested previously on Jan. 11 for allegedly breaching conditions of release

Most Read