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Carolyn Abraham’s study in diversity

Carolyn Abraham’s daughter Jade was in Kindergarten when she asked her mother a tough question. “Mom, what are we?” Abraham spun the globe and pointed to India, China, England, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, the west coast of Africa, and Jamaica, to explain where the family was from and what made them who they were.

As a journalist who wrote about science and social trends related to science,  medical research and health for the Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, Mclean’s and Zoomer, Abraham knew the human genome might change the future of medicine. As a new mom, she was interested in answering questions about her ancestry.

The search led to her book, The Juggler’s Children, which was Globe and Mail Best Book winner and Governor General’s Literary Award finalist and received glowing reviews in the Literary Review of Canada, the Quill & Quire and a strong endorsement from the Ontario Genealogical Society.

Abraham’s own journey in Canada began in 1972, when her parents immigrated from England. Their first home was in Mississauga, and in an apartment building full of newcomers, she didn’t really feel different. When they moved to St Catharine’s however, a fairly small and predominantly white town, things changed.

“Grade two, when I was six or seven, that was probably the most trying period for me,” she recalls. “I was teased – no, I was bullied. I’d be playing soccer and someone would shout, ‘Go home and eat curry’. But one learns from all those experiences. For the most part, with a few exceptions, Canada is a very open country. Those that come with a sense of hope and a willingness to work hard find there’s a high chance of success.”

She tells newcomers to be open about being different, not to cover up or try to hide. “Canada is a unique country, full of diversity and plurality of voices and a recognition of differences. Studies in business and science, in the arts, all show that the more eclectic the mix of ethnicities, the richer the product. Be inclusive, learn new things, but take pride in the journey that brings you here.”

Posted: Mar 9, 2020

May 2020

Centennial College

Immigration Peel Canada

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