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July 25 , 2009

Our Dream Was Canada

Escape from Czechoslovakia with Two Suitcases, Children and a Dog


In 1982, I and my husband, parents with two young children, made a big decision. We fled our country, Czechoslovakia, to find our way to Canada and to start a new life there. As most citizens behind the "iron curtain," we felt increasing limitations of our personal freedom and our lack of defense against these. However, the main reason behind our decision was the worsening condition of the natural environment. In those days, in Czechoslovakia, I worked in the environmental field and was also taking postgraduate courses dealing with environment. I was not permitted to publish news about the deterioration of the environment, but because of my studies, I heard the bad news, gloomy statistics and hopeless prognosis. I was alarmed and finally, deeply depressed. "What to do? Where to move?" When even "our" mountains, our home, showed the undeniable signs of pollution, from no loacal cuases, we made our decision.

A holiday in Yugoslavia provided, for us, the only oportunity to get out of the country with both children. From there, we had hoped to continue to Western countries. We managed it, despite the obstacles, but our stay in a German refugee camp extended over a year. Unfortunately for us, the Canadian government did not support our application for immigration. Our qualifications and experience in forestry and environment were not in demand, so our only chance for immigration to Canada was to obtain a sponsor.

Finally, we were sponsored and in the Fall of 1983, and we landed in Canada, in Toronto. It took an additional two years before we came to the place, where we had dreamed of living, the Rocky Mountains.

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