“[community housing has] given me a place that is safe and happy..”
— KUKU, WINNIPEG MB
This is Kuku. She came to Canada as a refugee claimant after living 3 years in the United States with a denied refugee claim. She had no choice but to cross the border with her 2 young sons in September 2017. When she arrived, she said she was treated well at the border and brought to the family shelter at Salvation Army.
From the shelter, Kuku was able to move into transitional housing at Naomi House in Winnipeg where she lived for 6 months with a supportive community of newcomers much like herself, before getting into community housing at Peace Tower. She was able to apply and qualify for her apartment through her housing advisor at New Journey Housing as another tenant was moving out into their new Habitat home. This tenant had lived with Rent Geared to Income rents for a several years, found work, started paying market rent, and was able to move into their new home. This step by step process is something that Kuku is also following.
When asked about how community housing has helped her she says that it has “given her a place that is safe and happy.” Life is hard but having a good, clean and affordable place to live allows Kuku and her kids to focus on living and taking next steps. She said that her job right now is to maintain the home, put hot food on the table and make her kids happy. Now that she has secured daycare for her 3-year-old, she is going to take the next step and try to find part time work.
Kuku expressed that even though she has been through a lot, she is still lucky and that doors have opened for her. She speaks about how making Canada her home has been gradual and that even though she doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring she knows it will be better. She says, “Our kids learn from us and we have to teach them how to defend for tomorrow”. When speaking of her 9 year old she shares how she doesn’t want him to know that she struggles with helping him with his grade 4 homework. She finds out what he is studying, looks it up on google/YouTube, so that she is prepared to answer his questions when he comes home. She says that education is “my son’s job right now as mine is to provide for my family and to make sure they are happy”.
The story of Kuku’s settlement journey into Winnipeg is full of her strengths, resourcefulness, love and commitment to making a better life for her kids. Even though Kuku’s immigration status is still uncertain, she is able to move forward because she has a safe and affordable place to raise her kids. She says, “Now we can start to live like other families”. Kuku’s strength and optimism gives us all something to admire and look up to.