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Our Journey To Canada

Meet Darleen Schiavo, a proud Lebanese-Canadian. She is the Director of Operations at Shway Shway Cafe, the Director of Community Relations at Cris Kambouris Realty, and is a huge advocate of supporting local. Darleen speaks two languages, is a University of Windsor graduate, and volunteers for a number of Windsor-Essex charities. When reflecting on her family's immigration story this is what she had to say:

My mother, Samira Rizkalla, was born in 1936 in Eitha, Lebanon. She completed some schooling but did not graduate as the family did not have enough money for their daily necessities. Her father had moved to Brazil to start a new life, with a plan to eventually send for them. At the age of 14 my mother moved to Beriut to became a nanny for a wealthy family. When she was 19 years of age, my mother bravely journeyed alone (having never been out of Lebanon), by airplane to Detroit, Michigan and then travelled to Windsor. Once in Windsor, she rented an apartment and worked at Kresge, in the deli, for one year. This enabled her to earn enough money to bring her younger brother to Canada. They worked together at Kresge for another year in order to bring the rest of the family to Canada by boat (which included their mother and 3 other siblings).

During that first year here, she learned English at W.D. Lowe and earned her Canadian citizenship. Since this story began, she married my father and moved to Canton, Ohio. She regrettably has never returned to her homeland and will probably never return because of her health. Funny enough, our lives have come full circle, as I was born in Canton, Ohio and moved to Windsor in 1992, after I was married. My mom was a trailblazer. To take this enormous task on for her family, alone, especially at a time in history where women would not customarily leave the family home if they were not married.

My mother's story of independence has shown me how to survive situations and take ownership of my world in the workplace. I take pride in my work and always keep my mother in mind as her amazing will to set a huge goal and achieve it, inspires me every day.

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