31 Mars 2016
One of my friends asked me: "Why did you immigrate to Canada? ". In his treaty about love The Ring of the Dove (2) , the Arab writer from Andalusia Ibn Hazm wrote in the first page of his book that "love begins as a joke and becomes serious in the end ". According to my own experience as immigrant, I could say today that "immigration (sometimes) begins as a joke and becomes serious in the end ". When, about 13 years ago, Mohamed R., my friend and colleague at the Post Office, suggested and insisted that I go to the Canadian embassy in Tunis and ask the receptionist for the immigration forms to Canada, I was not so enthusiastic about his suggestion. Indeed I was neither jobless nor poor in my birth country. My dad asked me once: "You have already two good jobs, you have no debts or mortgage to pay back and you are the owner of a new apartment. So what are you actually looking for in Canada?” I am still looking for an answer to this serious question!
When to my surprise the Délégation Générale du Québec in Paris replied to my first application and asked me to send them the certified translations of all my degrees, diplomas and work certificates, I said to myself: "Why not try? I have nothing to lose in the end ". Many months later I received the "Selection Certificate" from the immigration ministry of Quebec, but this was not the end of the procedure. I had first to prove to the Canadian federal government that I had no criminal record either in Germany or Tunisia. When the Canadian embassy in Paris asked me to send them a cheque covering the immigration fees, I knew that Canada had already opened its doors to me. During this time I was psychologically unable to step back. When I finally received the Canadian immigration visa I couldn’t resist the temptation to see how life looks like in Canada.
When I became Canadian citizen back in 2004, I didn’t take any picture of the naturalisation ceremony and didn’t cry out of emotion as several "new Canadians" did after they had received their Certificate of Canadian Citizenship. Until now I can’t understand the true meaning of the words uttered by the woman judge who presided over the official ceremony: "You have to be proud of being Canadians ". I didn’t have the courage to contradict the honourable judge and say loudly: "Should the Bushmen living in the Kalahari desert be ashamed of not being Canadians?"
1) Extalgia is a possible translation of the German word Fernweh, which is the opposite of Heimweh (homesickness or nostalgia).