Magazine article Herizons

The Legacy of Family Separation

Magazine article Herizons

The Legacy of Family Separation

Article excerpt

Before she left, my mother sat with my sister and I on the bed in the room we shared and talked to us about menstruation. She was appropriately scientific; maybe there was some reference to womanhood, but it would not have resonated with me. I was eight and blood meant pain; I was terrified.

Only recently have I begun to explore some of the subtler impacts of my family's migration to Canada and the United States. My parents left first, leaving my sister and me in the care of an aunt. She ensured that our basic material needs were met, but we lived without emotional security. As a result, we had to depend on ourselves.

My family's migration was affected by several Canadian and U.S. immigration policies. We left Guyana primarily as economic migrants and remained in Canada under temporary visas for a number of years while my parents applied for permanent resident status. When our efforts to immigrate under the point system failed, we applied under humanitarian grounds. In the meantime, as a backup measure, my mother sought to immigrate to the U. S. as a live-in domestic under a program similar to Canada's Live-In Caregiver program. After working in the U. S. for two years, it was another two years before her papers were processed. During this time she had no legal travel documents and both my sister and I as well as our father were unable to see her.

Our family was separated over and over again - children from parents, spouse from spouse, in various configurations - over a 15-year period. …

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