Journey from the North
My story of immigrating to the U.S. begins in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada when, at 13 years of age, I chose to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1977, my parents, my brother and I joined this church, and I became determined to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah because it was a church school. Because of my strong commitment to God and to my church, I sought an opportunity in the States for both education and spiritual enrichment.
My birth country is Canada, and I enjoyed my life and loved my country. My story is not one of escaping a traumatic situation. Going to BYU in the U.S. was an adventure! In college, I made friends and developed a deep fondness for learning. I loved learning about the culture, and I even majored in Anthropology–the study of peoples and cultures.
I had many more positive than negative experiences, but encountering racism was both a negative experience and a shock. I remember the moment when a fellow female college student said, “I could never date a black man.” That moment, and others like it, prompted me to identify and examine my own different, but equally damaging, biases.
I married an American citizen, and with a “green card” in hand I started to seriously consider pursuing citizenship. I asked my Canadian father for his blessing and he gave me the nod. While no nation is without its flaws, my father respected the U.S. and gave me his full blessing.
After a long and tedious process with immigration officials in Charlotte, North Carolina, I became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. With my husband and my four children in tow, I made one more trip to Charlotte to be sworn in as a citizen. I was happy to then be able to vote and to enjoy all of the rights and privileges of being a citizen. The officiator instructed those of us who were naturalizing with the following: “If you see something that you don’t like about this country, do not criticize it. You are now a part of it.” I was a U.S. citizen and I could be a contributor.
I believe that a woman has a sense of belonging and a love for the country in which she is born; I believe that she has a similar experience with the “soil” on which she bears a child. I had all five of my children in the state of North Carolina, and it is home. The United States is home. I am tied to this place forever and I love it.