“Life in The Prairie in the Thirties”. by Henry Regehr

The Uber driver seemed discouraged by his present immigrant circumstances. His new family, bright kids, showed promise while he was seeing himself as poor with little promise of the life he had imagined when leaving the poverty, crime, and political instability in his own country. He was near tears. 

Can I tell you a story?” I asked. 

 “Of course,” he replied. 

My parents came to this country just shy of a hundred years ago, destitute, I began. They were young with two children.  By just days they had evaded the grip of the NKVD and Communist Russia where my father was on the party blacklist because he was a teacher in a religious school. He contrived by devious means to get an exit visa. Much later he was told that his name had been called on the public address system at the infamous Moscow railway station, which they had left just two days earlier.  It was a narrow escape. 

On arrival in Canada, they were welcomed, penniless, by their religious community in Saskatchewan and were settling into a small farm when the Great Depression crashed their dreams and the prairie Dust Bowl years dried up any hope for economic success.  

They were able to see, I told the Uber driver, that many years later, all their seven children were well educated, most of them with professional degrees, and were well established with families of their own. Their grandchildren had all become professionals with children of their own who were following in their parents’ footsteps. Our own two children, I added, had both become international academic leaders in their fields. 

“This can happen for struggling young immigrants like yourself”, I concluded. 

My driver was silent while he wiped his tears. “I will remember this for the rest of my life”, he said as I stepped out of the car.                 

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