Born in Rijeka, Croatia |
Eliana comes from a mixed German–Croatian household, with a father who migrated to Croatia which resulted in her feeling as though she didn’t really belong. Croatia for her and her husband felt “too small” so they wanted to go west. She had an opportunity to settle in Germany, a place she knew well but quickly realized it wouldn’t be a good fit. So in the early 1990s, they moved to Toronto since she had an aunt living here. Eliana remembers arriving on Thanksgiving, which has become her personal day for celebrating their immigration to Canada.
“My daughter made a relevant comment saying how the advantage of Toronto is that it does not have a specific culture and strong identity. Because of the lack of identity everybody feels welcome [ like] it’s their own.”
Eliana agrees saying that you can make the city into what you want it to be. Toronto is a place that allows for her curious mind to wander, allowing her to develop interests in things like Vedic Vastuu, and taking Sanskrit classes. Today Eliana works as the Executive Assistant & Special Projects Manager in a nonprofit company that employs immigrants as interpreters and translators.
Toronto as Home
Eliana says the Toronto Reference Library saved and helped her survive long winters without family and friends. This space curbed her loneliness and restored her sense of intellectual dignity while she was working odd jobs and had a limited knowledge of English.
“This is a place of cohesion, refuge and stimulation.”
In Croatia she says she was restricted to borrowing three books at a time, yet here her family can borrow up to forty items every few days.
Connection with the Past
Eliana has a degree in Croatian Literature and she chose an object that is representative of her Croatian city of birth, Rijeka (meaning “river”). Rijeka is an important harbour on the Adriatic Sea, a city with a complicated history and beautiful geography. This blue ceramic harbour tugboat hangs in her kitchen. In the past tugboats were commonly seen, working day and night to help large boats navigate the shallow waters and enter the city harbor – an important sign of the city´s prosperity.