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Born in Balvi, Latvia | 

Leila moved to the United States as an exchange student in order to improve her English and experience North American “melting pot” culture. She instantly fell in love with the region and eventually moved to Canada. Toronto was not a love at first sight. But with the time the city really appealed to her, and especially the fact that Toronto was so diverse with everything imaginable here. The birth of her son was the major turning point when she felt a special connection to the city.

“This is where my child was born, this is my city, this is my country.”

Currently she works as a Vice Consul assistant at the Royal Thai Consulate dealing with applicants, handling visa applications and issuing visas.

Toronto as Home

This apartment complex is where she first brought her son ‘home’. She explains how after a long day, when she reaches this door she knows she is almost home. And home means love, comfort, and peace. Through this door, lots of memories and hopes have passed: moving to Canada with lots of anticipations and plans, the birth of her beloved son, divorce and carrying on as a single parent, rebirth of herself into a happier, wiser and more spiritual person.

Connection with the Past

Leila is holding rye bread, a staple food in her country of birth. Rye used to be consumed by peasants centuries ago, and for her it symbolizes ‘hard work’.  Through the labour of those who consumed this bread, a better future was built. It reminds her that Canada has also become the country we enjoy today as a result of previous generations’ hard work. This bread also reminds Leila of her grandmother, her stories of a hard life, especially not having enough food after WW2 and all the struggles of that generation.

 “We are so lucky that we do not have to endure all of that.”

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