Family First: A new Canadian family’s journey to Kingston

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A Burundi man who came to Canada as a refugee sponsored by the canadian government has spent the last year and a half getting his family here with him. – Feb 17, 2020

As part of Global Kingston Family First series, we met with a Burundi man who has been working to come to Canada as a refugee since he was a child and now lives in Kingston.

It’s a journey that has taken Elysee Nkuriunziza most of his life, and since he arrived in Canada over a year ago, his sole focus has been getting his family here with him.

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Just a month ago he succeeded, and now, sharing a meal with his wife and two young boys is a moment he cherishes every day.

Nkuriunziza’s journey to Kingston started when he was fleeing civil war in Burundi as a child.

“That civil war has been going on since before I was born, so in 1993 my parents decided to flee the country.”

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They initially went to Tanzania but Nkuriunziza was separated from his parents and ended up spending two decades as a refugee in Zambia.

Almost eight years ago he was accepted as a refugee by the Canadian government, but it took six years for him to actually be accepted and to arrive in Canada.

Despite the long wait, Nkuriuziza says the Canadian government gave him something no other country has in his lifetime struggle to find a home.

“Canada has been the first country to accept me the way I am and say, ‘OK, we are giving you a chance to be one of us.'”

It’s an opportunity the young father and husband said he was determined not to squander. His main focus when he arrived in the country was to find a job so he could bring his family here.

“I have to keep going, I can’t give up,” he told himself.

Click to play video: 'Keys Job Centre needs volunteers to help newcomers to Kingston' Keys Job Centre needs volunteers to help newcomers to Kingston
Keys Job Centre needs volunteers to help newcomers to Kingston – Feb 14, 2020

Princess Nkuriuziza, Elysee’s wife, said the time apart was also hard on her and their two young boys, Huan and Elijah.

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“You miss each other a lot. Sometimes you can communicate, sometimes you can not so it was a tough challenge.”

Nevertheless, Nkuriunziza did get himself a job in a factory in the Kingston area, and was able to bring princess and the two boys over to Canada just over a month ago.

“It was like heaven,” Princess said. “That was great, it was like a dream come true.”

Elysee agreed, saying: “It’s beyond what simple words can express because it’s kind of excitement which goes beyond.”

Not only will the newly united family be celebrating their first family day together but Huan and Elijah are both celebrating their first birthdays in Canada this month.

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