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Born in Bogotá, Colombia |

Catalina didn’t know she was leaving Colombia until three days prior to departure, giving her little time to say goodbye to friends before fleeing. Her father was a long-term victim of extortionists, and when he was unable to pay, his life was threatened, which promoted the family to flee the country. Catalina had an aunt living in Kitchener who told them good things about Canada, and so they flew to Atlanta, drove to the Canadian border and claimed refugee status.

“Canada literally saved my father’s life.”

For Catalina it provided her the opportunity to feel safe and protected, and she has recently completed her undergraduate degree at University of Toronto in Philosophy and French Literature.

Toronto as Home

Catalina wanted to be photographed in her second home, Robarts Library at the University of Toronto.

“This is where I found shelter and felt safe when feeling overwhelmed about being in Canada.”

Catalina treated going to Robarts Library as a ritual. Focusing on her studies in Robarts was not only part of her formal education, but also helped her to discover herself.

Connection with the Past

Catalina wanted to hold a photograph of her best friends, who she calls her “chosen sisters”. She has known María Paula since they were eight years of age and lived in the same building; Melissa who she met nine years ago in France; and Silvia who she met six years ago. Silvia has built a yurt in a place close to Bogotá called La Calera and is planning to grow her own food – a place that Catalina wants to visit and help out at once she gets her Canadian citizenship.

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