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My Great-Grandmother Made An Unthinkable Sacrifice For A Future In Canada

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Like many people around the world, I watched the media coverage of migrant children separated from their parents at the United States border with shock and horror. As a mother I can't imagine the pain of having my two little girls taken from me. But, this tragic situation is far from the only time families have been forcibly separated. The news is full of stories of parents sending children on risky asylum missions — heartbreaking photos of overpacked boats holding little ones, with a single parent or relative their only chance of survival. How many teenagers from South America, travel alone to the US border in the desperate hope of securing a future with safety and opportunity?

A few years ago, I was chatting with a woman in my community. I was taken aback when she mentioned how nice it was to have her son living with her. In order to provide for her family, she'd had to leave him in the Philippines with her parents when he was just two months old, to work abroad and send money home. At the age of seven years, he was finally able to join her in Canada.

I was floored. Seven years apart? It's uncomfortable to say, but my first thought was that nothing could separate my daughters from me. I would do anything to keep them. I'd starve, or live on the streets, but nothing would move me to leave them behind. How naive I was.

I thought of this woman frequently, and after some time, I realized that mine were the judgemental thoughts of a person living in safety and comfort, one who has never known despair. A mother who has been able, by virtue of where she was born, to create and foster a strong healthy parent-child bond. It led me to think about my own family's journey to........

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