Born in Prishtina, Kosovo |
Like thousands of others, Astrit and his family fled Kosovo after the war. It was 1999 and he was only eighteen. They found safety and refuge in Canada, a country that accepted over 5,000 refugees from his nation. It was that remembrance, of the Canadian people welcoming thousands of refugees that impelled his family to stay and build a life here.
Toronto as Home
Astit is standing at Queen’s Park in front of the Ontario Legislative Building. This location has a special place in Astrit’s heart because he was here, with hundreds of other Kosovars, on February 17, 2008. That was when Kosovo’s declaration of independence was enacted and Canada was one of 108 UN member states that recognized it as a country.
Connection with the Past
Astrit is wearing a traditional Albanian hat called a “plisi”. This hat is part of a traditional costume worn by the men of Northern Albania and Kosovo during national celebrations and festivities. Astrit’s late grandfather used to wear one on a daily basis, both in Kosovo and later when he came to Toronto. He recounts the story of how his grandfather was invited to tea by an Albanian couple here in Toronto after they saw him crossing the street wearing a plisi. This hat always brings back the childhood memories of being on the farm with his grandfather.