By Craig Gilbert/London Community News/Twitter:@CraigbGilbert
Coming to Canada was the dream of dreams for Ban Abood’s husband.
“We applied three times together (and were denied),” the Iraqi chemistry teacher said. “It was his dream to come to Canada. When he died, I decided I had to make his dream come true.”
So in 2008 Abood brought her five children, now aged nine to 16, across the Atlantic right here to London, where she has relatives.
Abood spoke to the London Community News Wednesday (Nov. 21) at the launch of a new video designed to welcome international newcomers to the city. She and five other new Canadians — from Bhutan, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Bosnia and Liberia — starred in the seven-minute film.
They each told their stories and described the support they received from the video’s producers, the London & Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership (LMLIP), the London & Middlesex Immigration Portal and the City of London.
The idea behind the video is to make integrating easier for immigrants who choose to settle here. The video can be found on YouTube; search for “City of London Immigration.”
Now training as a senior fitness instructor and learning computer skills, Abood said she had to ignore a bevy of naysayers back home as she found the will to leave the Middle East. She described her former home as a “war zone.”
“So many people said I couldn’t do it, that it would be too hard as a single parent,” she said. “But I decided I had to do it, for the dream, and to find a safer place for my children.”
About 100 people attended the video launch at the Goodwill Centre on Horton Street. According to LMLIP co-chair Elisabeth White the turnout exceeded her expectations by about half.
“But it’s not that much of a surprise considering what a collaboration of people creating this video was,” she said. “It is just wonderful the number of lives this project has touched.”
The video, distributed on DVD and available on the LMLIP web portal, started as an idea about a year ago.
“We have a strategic plan and one of the focuses is how can we give them a voice, so that we could better understand each other,” she said.
At the same time, the city was looking for projects designed to market London as a destination. An application for funding was approved by the province and the rest is history.
“But you know funding is only as good what people do with it,” she said. “And we had a very willing group of people ready to do this.”
Abood is also working on gaining certification as a teacher through the University of Western Ontario. She said the languages tests are a challenge, but the science is simple. She was proud to say her eldest daughter has the highest average for chemistry in her school.
In fact she got a laugh from the crowd during the video when she described her incredulity at being unable to have years of teaching experience in Iraq and Libya recognized in Ontario.
“But chemistry is chemistry everywhere,” she laughed, bringing an exasperated hand to her face. “It doesn’t need English!”