On a mid-April Sunday, 18 years ago, I looked down upon St. John’s from Signal Hill and wondered to myself, “What have I done?”
The snow covering was gone and the landscape was grey, brown, slushy and mucky.
Quite frankly, it was ugly.
The previous day I had walked through a deserted downtown with my family, finding only one open restaurant.
I was worried.
Two years earlier, in Johannesburg, a city of millions in South Africa, I had stepped out of my office and looked down the hallway.
Including myself, I noted that in each office was a person who had been directly affected by a violent crime. Business travel took me to other parts of Africa, Indian Ocean islands, the U.K. and Europe. But every time I returned home, I felt increasingly unsafe.
I resented having to carry a handgun for protection.
A close friend had started the process to become a landed immigrant in Canada and was encouraging me to do the same.
The path to Newfoundland
My thinking was that apart from many who had no choice but to stay, there were three groups in South Africa: people who decided to stay to make a go of it, ones who remained and constantly complained, and those who left.
‘I struggle with the sense of gratitude many immigrants and refugees feel about being in a palpably safer place that precludes them from looking at their new home too critically.’
Our landed immigrant process was slow, but successful.
Through a series of serendipitous co-incidences we arrived on the island of Newfoundland.
Immigrating is, quite simply, very hard work, and I soon found out that there was another group of South Africans: expats with romantic memories of their homeland tempting them to return, complaining about wherever in the world they were living now, and irritating everyone with tales about how much better it was back home.
I fought this impulse throughout the long rain, drizzle and fog-filled non-spring, as optimistic locals promised a great…