My Family's Refugee Story

December 21, 2018

By Hussein Allidina

In 1972, my mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles were among more than 80,000 Asians living in Uganda who were forcibly displaced by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

Gripped by fear and uncertainty, my family saw their lives as prosperous farmers and business owners crumble before their eyes. In a matter of weeks, my mother and her three sisters fled for Canada. My grandmother and uncle were relocated to a refugee camp in Italy before settling in Canada years later.

I cannot imagine how vulnerable my mother must have felt as she navigated an unfamiliar country on an entirely different continent. And yet, when my mom looks back at that time, she tells a more uplifting story — a story of gratitude; gratitude for the many Canadians, including neighbors, community members and people at the local mosque, who provided the lifesaving support that she needed to start over.

Lily, June,Yasmin.jpg
My aunts with their caseworker in the winter
of 1972 when they arrived in Canada.

Ultimately, my mother and all of her siblings became proud Canadians who built successful careers in government, accounting, hospitality and nursing.

Today, there are so many misconceptions about refugees — how they take our resources and threaten our safety. My family is an example of how refugees work hard and give back. Because of the support and kindness they received, my family was able to thrive and pay it forward.

We launched Refugee Action Fund because I know from personal experience that a little support can make an immeasurable difference in a family’s life — today, tomorrow and for generations to come. Our ability to provide this support is a moral obligation that will pay dividends into the future.