Born in Spitak, Armenia |
Despite having a job in Archaeology, being happily married, and being surrounded by family and friends, Lilit couldn’t see Armenia offering the type of life she wanted for her family. The country was struggling with political and social instability. After living and travelling in different European countries for about seven years as her husband’s job was in the Foreign Service, it felt somewhat logical to move to Canada to seek better future opportunities for her children. Lilit soon found a job in her field of Archaeology with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. She started looking closely at the Archaeology of Ontario and was fascinated by how complex North America’s past was.
“Canada is an amazing country with its dark and bright history pages. It has long established traditions and amazing multiculturalism since prehistoric times, when different groups of indigenous people were inhabiting the land we live on nowadays.”
Toronto she says feels like home because it is safe, green, clean and there are smiling people in its streets. Diversity is valued and welcomed and most importantly, people living here have “choices”.
“I can do what I want in my life, I can pursue my career or I can start all over.”
Toronto as Home
Lilit is standing in front of the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church on Progress Avenue which is an important centre for her community and where she discovered “the real meaning of multiculturalism”. The beginning of twentieth century was a tragic time for Armenians as many of them were forced to leave their homes and move away. That’s when the Holy Trinity Church and eventually a few other Armenian churches opened in Toronto and GTA. Through volunteering, Lilit met members from different cultural backgrounds, and she learnt from them what it means to be an Armenian in Canada. She feels it is important to keep your roots and transfer your language to your children but at the same time she values the importance of newcomers integration into the local culture.
“That is the beauty of Toronto, which is like a huge potluck table where everyone brings the best dish from their home and all of us are offered to try and enjoy a little bit of everything.”
Connection with the Past
Lilit is holding Armenian bread called lavash. It is a very thin flatbread that Armenians have been eating and enjoying for hundreds of years. It is used as a plate to hold other things or as a spoon to pick up food. As much as it is an everyday food, lavash is also used in traditional ceremonies such as weddings, where the mother-in-law welcomes the newlyweds by putting lavash on their shoulders to wish them wealth. Every time Lilit has lavash on the table it reminds her of small family meals and also of the big feasts with friends back in Armenia where everyone would share one big lavash, eating, chatting and laughing.