Lisa immigrated to Canada with her parents at age ten.
Lisa immigrated to Canada with her parents at age ten. The move transformed their lives. Soon, Lisa felt disconnected from her parents, who grew up in a very different context than she was now growing up in. She felt that her parents didn’t recognize her achievements or validate her as a person. At the same time, she also felt alienated from her peers in this new context. Like many newcomer youth, she had that feeling of being split.
In what Lisa describes as “a misguided act of rebellion that lasted over five years,” she got connected with peers she knew weren’t the best influence in her life. When she decided she needed to make changes, she sought the help of Eva’s Family Reconnect Program. She tells her story in the report, Family Matters: Homeless Youth & Eva’s Initiative’s Family Reconnect Program.
“I didn’t start living with my parents until I was six years old, because both my parents had to work, so I lived with my grandmother … The main struggle when I was 13 or 14, really with my father, was a cultural clash. It was really difficult for me and even though I had really high grades at school they were so hard on me.
“The conflict started getting physical and I actually got involved with child services … My dad was charged with, I guess, assault, but later the charges were withdrawn because I retracted my statement …
“When I was in grade 11, I realized I just couldn’t be at home. I started researching shelters and Eva’s was the only one that was really helpful … I left a message with a counselor and she took me in the next day. The situation at home was really hostile and we worked out strategies of how to deal with it. So like instead of retaliating, I retreated to my room and chilled out. My parents aren’t really big believers in counseling … I did the counseling myself but learned how to deal with a situation that I knew was headed for the street. I learned that although I can’t live with them ever … I’m letting go of the ego and the anger and realizing that sometimes they may have been right and I’m not always the victim.”
During two years of counseling and with support from Eva’s staff, Lisa’s life changed for the better. She re-discovered her love of art and began painting using an ink brush. With this renewed confidence, her academics excelled. She graduated high school with honours and received a major national scholarship to attend any university in Canada.