Nigerian family braving first Canadian winter after overcoming COVID-19 barriers

·3 min read
Nigerian family braving first Canadian winter after overcoming COVID-19 barriers

The Oyedeles — Damilare Oyedele, his wife Wumi Oyedele and their two daughters, Glory and Grace — had been working on moving to Canada from Nigeria for months before they finally had a breakthrough last year.

"We wanted to move for many reasons but the major reason was our daughters. My wife and I wanted to give them an opportunity to experience a world that we were not privileged to have at that age," Damilare said.

They had no idea their journey would happen at the same time as an unprecedented global pandemic.

Adeoluwa Atayero/CBC
Adeoluwa Atayero/CBC

'Make our home in Canada'

After months of applying and praying, the Oyedeles got all their papers in order and were ready to travel. Then quarantines and lockdowns started all over the world.

"We had spent so much time and money getting to this point only to be met with another hurdle," Wumi said. "My husband and I had to decide if this is really what we wanted. We prayed about it and decided that no matter what was thrown our way, we would make our home in Canada."

This resolve to persevere proved important, as the challenges increased in the coming weeks. The price of their tickets had doubled by the time they could finally travel. The journey was long, with various stopovers before they finally arrived in Calgary.

They lived in Calgary for a couple of months, then moved once more to Regina after Damilare landed a dream job as a consultant in the technology industry.

Slique Photographer/Submitted by Oyedele family
Slique Photographer/Submitted by Oyedele family

This whole process was especially difficult for seven-year-old Glory and three-year-old Grace.

"They were champs throughout the whole ordeal. We were both super proud of how they co-operated and dealt with the mask wearing and continuous lack of sleep," Wumi said. "When we finally landed in Regina, Glory asked me, 'Mom I hope we are not moving again?'"

Things have begun to normalize for the family. They found a church community in Regina, Lofty Heights Christian Centre, which has helped them transition into their first winter in Canada.

Slique Photographer/Submitted by Oyedele family
Slique Photographer/Submitted by Oyedele family

Glory has been able to continue her education in a school they are all very happy with.

"Although we have not met a lot of people here, the people we have met have been very kind and resourceful to us," Damilare said.

Remote resources

Not every new immigrant has been as fortunate in their transition to Canada. Organizations like Regina Open Door Society (RODS), which helps newcomers settle in, have had to mostly function remotely.

Victoria Flores, manager of communication and marketing at RODS, said the organization has been doing its best to adapt to changing pandemic conditions.

"We began to open our doors back when the government of Saskatchewan lifted the COVID restrictions, but we have still had to function majorly remotely because of the social distancing measures," said Flores.

Adeoluwa Atayero/CBC
Adeoluwa Atayero/CBC

As for the Oyedeles, they have been able to start new family traditions, like taking walks together in their new city, as they prepare for the world to return to normalcy.

"We cannot wait to take camping trips and go see the northern lights. Once things get back to normal, we are looking forward to giving Grace and Glory an authentic Canadian childhood experience," Damilare said.

CBC News Graphics
CBC News Graphics

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For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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