Our Journey to Canada
Meet Patricia Simone. She is a proud Italian-Canadian. Patricia attended Fanshawe College where she received her Law Clark diploma and graduated with a B.A. Honours Political Science and Communications Studies from the University of Windsor. Currently, she works at the University of Windsor's Cross-Border Institute as a Business Development Research Coordinator. She has volunteered with the Essex County International Women’s Day Committee and has been a long-time member of the Amherstburg Police Services Board. Patricia is known for her hard work, and her dedication to public issues. Patricia is also currently running for Amherstburg Town Council. While reflecting on her family's immigration story, this is what she had to say:
"My father, Nicola, one of 9 children, left his home in Abbateggio Italy, along with his brother on December 5, 1966 at the age of 14 and boarded a ship named SS Constitution bound for New York City. With little personal belongings my dad set off on a 2 week sea journey to meet up with his father and siblings waiting in the U.S. He arrived at Pier 5 in New York City and settled in New Britain, Conn. He began life in the U.S. knowing little English. He went to school, learned the language and took apprentice courses to find work.
At 25 years old, my dad returned to Abbateggio to visit family. This is when he met my mom, Anna. In the summer of 1977 my dad went back to Abbateggio and started speaking with my mom.
To ensure that he would be able to return to Italy to see my mom, upon his return to the U.S., he sold his beloved T-bird car. He thought it was more important to sell the car and be able to see my mom again. A story he still tells to this day. With money in hand he returned to Italy and asked my mother to marry him. They married in 1978 and recently celebrated their 40th Anniversary.
My mom followed my dad to New Britain. Knowing no English, she depended on her in-laws for daily tasks such as grocery shopping and doctors’ appointments. She learned the language watching TV shows like Three’s Company and helping my cousins with their homework.
In 1990 my parents decided that a move was necessary. The crime rate in the neighbourhood we were living was becoming dangerous and my parents worried that if we didn’t move my brother and I would be drawn to the gangs taking over our neighbourhood. My parents made the decision to move to Canada where my mom’s brother was living with his family and my grandmother.
In June 1990, with a car and van full of our belongings, we traveled through New York and entered Canada at Niagara Falls. Finances were a little tough when we arrived, as the economy was not the greatest at that time to find a job, my parents scrimped and saved to ensure my brother and I had all the necessities we needed. I saw my parents struggle to pay for the bare necessities. I remember my parents sitting at the kitchen table trying to figure out what bills to pay first until the next pay cheque arrived. They did not have an easy time. However, they continued to work hard and never complained.
My parents have made me the person I am today. They have shown me the importance of working as a team, never taking anything for granted, enjoying the life you are given because it is never guaranteed and helping others any way you can. They have instilled in me that hard word and determination help you achieve your goals.
I thank my parents for never fearing the unknown, taking a leap and moving from their home and starting a new life for better opportunity.
It’s important to remember that everyone has a story and we are all travelers in life."