The staff of Salt + Light Media come from 14 different countries. This summer, for Canada's 150th anniversary, we are reflecting on what makes Canada so special to each of us. Here Francisco Gonzalez, web developer, reflects on migrating to Canada and how it changed his life.
Being forced to leave your homeland is a fundamentally different experience from deciding to leave. Leaving behind almost 30 years of personal history, family, friends, steady work and a promising career is difficult and disorienting.
This is the situation that prompted our move to Canada from El Salvador, land of the martyred Archbishop Oscar Romera and, as you can imagine, we dealt with a lot of concerns and worries about moving to a new country. For example, not knowing the language, where we were going to live, how the people would treat us, where we would work etc. Amidst all the worries and concerns, I remember one particular concern that was always present. I knew that if I was able to overcome this concern, the rest of the issues would be no problem. The concern was - how am I going to keep my faith?
I'd heard many different things about Canada before migrating here. The terrible cold weather for one. How beautiful the country was and all about the cultural diversity. But nothing about the faith. As a resident of a third world country, we always look at developed countries like Canada as places where the faith has no place. I was coming to a desert in that sense and I was afraid my soul would not survive in that environment.
My worst fears did come true. I went through a desert period for several years, with a lot of sand storms, but when the dust finally cleared out,I was able to see clearly.
I saw a country that, against all odds, has been able to keep the faith up. It is a much more different way than my home country but it's there. My faith has been enriched by the diversity of beliefs and religions. Without realizing it, coming from a primarily Catholic country, I always saw at my faith as a dependent of the institutional Church. In Canada, witness people devoted to God from different religions taught me that beyond the institutions and structures, people have a something inside them that is constantly searching for God and everybody tries as best as they can. This doesn't mean that every way that people use to try to connect with God is valid or acceptable but it's living proof of what St. Augustine expressed in his Confessions: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until they rest in you."
Canada provided me with an opportunity for a new relationship with God and now, as I look back at the desert that I went through, I realize that the desert was my way searching for a greater good.