Photo: Andrew M. with mother Monica
40 years my mother worked at the same place. For some people, 40 years in the same place is a prison sentence. She “did life” at Mount Sinai hospital and is now a free woman, able to roam liberated to any destination she pleases. Over the holidays she was away in Fort Lauderdale, cooking Jamaican oxtail and shopping in new grocery stores with my already retired father (5 years in an open relationship with employment after putting in 33 years at General Motors) and my main man Uncle Roy who lives there. 3 weeks they gallivanted the retired streets of Florida, having lunch buffets, outlet mall perusing, and of course naps. Hanging out, living it up the way they want, Lord knows they’ve earned it putting up with 3 boys.
She’s spent so much of her life giving to other people; being a frontline clerical worker in one of Toronto’s healthcare facilities takes its toll. During her professional life on the Mother and Baby Unit, she was at the call of chart hunting doctors, nurses calling from other floors, nervous new parents and beaming veteran grandmothers: all with their own set of requests and colliding timelines. My mother has earned her masters in multitasking in a medical environment.
Her last day at work was November 28th 2014, they had a big retirement party and many people came by to tell her how much she meant to them. I knew my mother was loved at her job, but the outpouring appreciation even caught my very judgemental and cynical father for a loop. She put in 40 years for her family, so that we could reap the benefits of having two incomes in a land filled with opportunity.
My mother is no different than other parents who made the decision at a young age to migrate to Canada from their home country of birth. Our healthcare industry is full of Canadians who packed up their worldly belongings, leaving behind not only family and loved ones but years of education and jobs of affluence, only to be stripped of their titles upon entry into Canada. In anticipation of the dreams of future generations, it’s a sacrifice far greater than most could mentally grasp.
It’s important to tell this story today, to emphasize that the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr is alive in the hearts of first generation Canadians with roots deep in the soil of foreign lands. From Pakistan to Sudan, Canadian culture is a patchwork of diversity.
Dr. King once said “We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.”
With Black History Month approaching, we here at SEIU are having some great discussions about celebrating diversity, encouraging everyone to be inspired by people, regardless of the colour of their skin. Black history month isn’t just for black people; achievements in the black community are achievements for the global community. With the recent murders of Eric Garner and Mike Brown taking place south of the border, cases of equality and fairness have come in question. I firmly believe that we all must share the issues and problems of the world and offer global solutions that help create change that directly impact the community.