Friday, June 29, 2007

first generation Canadian

I have just recently read a series of historical fiction novels by Janice L. Dick. (Click on her name to learn more about her and her novels.
My parents have both written accounts of their life. Between the three novels, and my parents own accounts I have developed a better understanding.
I have always had a difficult time sorting through in my own mind what nationality am I really?
I am a Canadian of course, I was born here, but what were my parents . .and their parents and even beyond that.
My parents were both born in Russia, and yet their families hadn't lived there for multiple generations.
Before that . . .they came from Germany, and then before that Holland.
Understanding Mennonite heritage is perplexing since many people who immigrated chose not to speak of the circumstances that eventually led to many Mennonites immigrating out of Russia.
Since reading Dicks three novels I have come to truly appreciate the difficult situation that they faced and the enormous sacrifice many of them made to leave the only country that they knew to come to a land that promised peace and freedom of religion.
I would highly recommend these books as they have clarified in my mind the political and personal events that led to the move to Canada. The first one is called Calm Before the Storm. I purchased them at my local Christian Bookstore.


My own Dad's experience was different still in the fact that his mother died shortly after his birth and he was the youngest of ten children. His Uncle and Aunt asked to adopt him and bring him across to Canada. Again, I am amazed by God's hand. This morning I reread that part of his story and I was once again reminded why he had such a deep faith in his Saviour.

He was the only one from his family that came to Canada. One sibling immigrated to Brazil. The rest that survived stay in Russia. Eventually, and in the last decade two of his siblings, one brother and one sister moved to Germany with their families.

My Parents had the joy of travelling to Germany to meet his family in the early 90's.

The reunion in heaven that met my Dad upon his passing from this earth must have been fantastic. I just can't imagine.




My Mom remembered the time on the ship coming across the Atlantic Ocean. She wrote her account of it and again . . .I was just amazed.

The families were so poor when they arrived, and yet there was such joy in the freedom that they had longed for.



Sometimes it has been intriguing to me to listen to various groups discussing the policies on allowing immigrants into our country. Those of us who are one or two generations into this country seem to have acquired an opinion on this as though we own this land, it's been ours for a long time after all. How long? Not nearly as long as the Mennonites had been in Russia, and yet when push came to shove they found that the three hundred or so years that they lived in that vast land, really was nothing, and they were considered new comers. Yet here we are, many of us considering ourselves to be quite deeply planted in this wonderful land and my family only arrived in the 1920's.



This time that I have spent pondering my heritage has once again made me so thankful for the land that allowed my family entrance when their seemed no safe place to go.



In the last few days, I've perused the Internet for Canadian trivia quizzes and interesting facts and that sort of thing to post for Canada Day. In the end I decided against doing that since if I can find it . . .well then so can you.


On Sunday, I will post my tribute to Canada.

Have a wonderful day my friends, I'm off to seek out some red and white flowers at the garden store.

(the postcards posted today are more from my Grandmothers collection of vintage postcards)

10 comments:

  1. We do have a colourful and fascinating history....hear any one of our stories and you see God's hand so clearly moving people and events.
    I have read Janice L. Dick books and found them very true to the stories I have heard first hand.
    It is a bit of a twist -- but being first generation Canadian makes me still very connected to my roots yet at the same time extremely thankful to God for the privilege of living in the best country in the world! I take nothing for granted!!
    Thank you for your 'history' post Lovella, hope you find your red and white flowers...petunias?
    Have a wonderful day!!!

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  2. I am second generation Canadian. My Dad's side came from Wales in 1927 and my Mom's side came from Russia, and previously from Germany/Poland, in 1910. I loved your old postcards! Recently a 2nd cousin sent me a picture of the "Montclare" that my grandma came on 80 years ago in July. I'm doing research on my family history and have just typed out my grandma's memoirs. It's exciting discovering your roots! I love the past, and also how God worked things out so both sides of my family immigrated here and somehow my parents met! I'm enjoying your blog very much.

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  3. What a wonderful legacy! I am intrigued by family histories, and have been deeply immersed for several years in attempting to compile my family's genealogy (with photos and stories) as well as my hubby's family. You've just re-inspired me again!!

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  4. I definetely want to read those books! I have written down some of the stories from the generations before us, hoping that our children will appreciate this part of their history too. It is fascinating! When our family travelled through Germany in 1994, we got to meet the first wife of my grandfather, whom he had been separated from furing the war.
    He endedup in S.A. and married for the second time, having been led to believe that his first wife died. Our son Benji thanked God that night that we could meet Opa's "original" wife. =)
    It is a fun and rewarding project to learn to understand where our roots are...to realize that every family could write a historical fiction book (my favorite) that is not just fantasy!

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  5. I too am filled with awe when I consider God's amazing work in bringing my parents out of Russia into Iran and then to the U.S. God led them, protected them and then blessed my Father with His saving grace...my mother was a believer before they came to the U.S. So here I am first generation like you. I'm glad you were able to track down some history on your people's journey. Blessings as we consider how fortunate we are. Have a great, Oh Canada Day!

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  6. Lovella, I love all your vintage postcards and the stories that accompany them. Beautiful. I used to have a collection as a kid - I'm kinda wishing I had saved them now... enjoy your day!

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  7. 6 years ago i had the incredible privalge of going with my aunt back to russia and do a tour. the tour's purpose was to lay a memorial stone on a mass grave in the town of eichenfeld. that mass grave consisted of members of my family from both sides of my family. my aunt had a deep desire to be a part of that and because we were direct decendants she was able to unveil the stone. i read the names of our family members that laid there. then we took the widows walk to the neighbouring village that the women and children took at night in safety after the massacre. it was hard to believe that in such a picturesque place such violence occured. the story is long and heart wrenching. when i arrived in russia and came to a familiar site of the big oak tree on the dneper river, my tears just flowed as i had a sense of belonging there. i also am first generation canadian and grew up with the stories of the old country. sad to say there were not many happy stories told. i was so thankful to God that he got our family out of there and that my generation was spared sooooo much. we live in the land of milk and honey, even though we complain, we have no right. what a wonderful experience i had and i was so great full for the opportunity. my daughter has read all those books and found them a very good read.

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  8. Your story touches my heart and reminds me just how blessed we are both in Canada and here in the US. So many stories are similar to yours. I so enjoy reading your blog; thank you for sharing your heart like that. It was instrumental in encouraging me to start a blog for the first time. I like the old photos and family stories you include. Blessings to you and your family. Someday I hope to visit your beautiful country across the border.

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  9. I am so excited - I can get these books through interlibrary loan!! Looking forward to reading them.

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  10. Excellent post! How awesome to be a first generation Canadian. My parents were too --- which makes me a second generation one, but of course we immigrated again, so I guess that makes me a first generation American, right? But I still consider myself a second generation Canadian. The heart has room for both in a very fond way.

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Thank you!