The mountains that were climbed to get to Canada – By Natasha Fatah
Before I was born, my father was in and out of prison for leading demonstrations against Zia-ul-Haq’s military dictatorship.
In his mind, and that of many other liberals, Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq was threatening to turn Pakistan from a progressive, exciting country into a conservative, dogmatic Islamic republic.
At that point, the dictatorship was winning, so for the safety of his family my father left Pakistan.
I don’t think he wanted to leave, but we ended up spending years in Saudi Arabia and Holland. Then my younger sister came along and my family waited for a safe opportunity to return to Pakistan.
But that return was never to happen.
Eventually, we made our way to a new home in Canada. It was the best decision our family ever made. Canada is our Promised Land.
There is a funny thing about the idea of a promised land — it’s about the place that you end up, but it is just as much about the environment you are trying to escape.
Whether it was the Jews in the Bible trying to rid themselves of the tyranny of the Egyptians, or African slaves in the American South — people flee to this sometimes vague notion of freedom. Away from whatever it is that harms them and towards opportunity and dignity. We don’t always know where that promised land is, but we know it when we find it.
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