I arrived at the Calgary International Airport in Calgary Alberta on a cold, dreary afternoon in February 1978. Moments before landing, the captain had announced that the temperature was -27 degree Celsius (-16 degree Fahrenheit), however, I did not fully comprehend what that meant, and didn’t understand the difference between that temperature and the 30 degree Celsius (80 degree Fahrenheit) I had experienced twenty-four hours previously. One can only imagine the shock on my face and the tremble on my body when I saw piles of snow, breathed in thick frozen air and watched moisture hung all over the trees like glass crystals. The officials at the airport welcomed me with politeness, checked my documents and ushered me through. Miraculously it seemed, when the door parted and I found myself at the arrival reception area; I searched for a familiar face that was to have met me. After waiting for approximately one hour I saw no one that I can relate to and all the other passengers I arrived on the plane with had dissipated, I began to panic quietly.
Within minutes of my arrival, I experienced what makes Canada a great country that it is and the generosity of her people. I met total strangers who became my guardian angels. First a Caucasian lady who put coins into the pay phone for me, then the taxi driver with a foreign accent who sent me back into the warmth of the airport while he loaded my luggage and took me to my destination even though I didn’t have Canadian currency to pay him, and then, the neighbour, a young lady of Asian heritage, who paid for my taxi fare and held me at her home until my contact arrived home. All these kindnesses left me with an everlasting impression of my new country, a country that I was determined to contribute to, in positive ways.
While life in Canada has not always been easy, it has been a country of opportunities, achievements and contributions for me. A country where I could achieve my dreams with a lot of hard work and helping hands along the way.
Arriving as a naïve, fresh faced 19-year-old, to attending college and university, to meeting my husband, having children while building a successful civil service career and a business, yet devoting time passionately to my immediate community and Canadian community at large. I was the first Nigerian born student to graduate from the Radio Arts (Communication Arts) program at Lethbridge College. And the first and only Black female (to date) to have risen to management level position with Alberta Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General, Young Offender Branch. A ministry that I worked for for over 30 years before retiring in 2015. I have recently completed a memoir - a chronicle of an immigrant’s journey - to be released by the end of this year (2017).
I was a founding and active member of the Nigerian Canadian Association of Calgary (1993), the Yoruba Foundation, Calgary (2004) and the Women of Vision, Calgary (2012). I’m an avid volunteer for causes that improves the lives of youths, women, families and the community.
During my time as a civil servant, I worked tirelessly to improve, impact and positively shape the lives of young people and their families. I also have passion for training - mentoring young staff and watching them develop and progress in their chosen careers. I truly believe that the youths are the future of our great nation. Equally, in the community, I have delivered Life Skills program classes to youths since 1993.
Through my board membership at various higher institutions and community organizations, I joyfully share my professional expertise and knowledge as a successful immigrant who is a proud CANADIAN.