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Born in Kuwait City, Kuwait |

Maisam and her family were vacationing in Turkey when they heard on the news that the Gulf War had begun. The family of seven decided not to return, leaving behind both their professional careers and all their possessions and, after spending some time in Spain, the family migrated to Canada. As a young girl, Maisam had difficulty adapting to the new environment as she could barely speak English. However, after starting in a school that had a fantastic ESL program, Maisam quickly realized that she wasn’t the only one on this “seemingly lonely boat”. She met other children in class who had similar stories of migrating to Canada and quickly made friends.  Being only six at the time she didn’t realize then what a wonderful opportunity this was. As time passed her English improved, and she began to feel confident speaking to “real Canadians”.  As she matured she realized that those Canadians also had similar stories of adaptation, and her feelings of comfort in this brand new world are precisely why Maisam considers Toronto now to be home. Ultimately through her experiences in this diverse city she has learned that there is a beauty that comes with being unique.

Toronto as Home

The hustle and bustle around Dundas Square has always been a magical thing for Maisam. This is where she feels most alive.

“No two people look the same or sound the same and yet there’s always such strong magnetism.”

Maisam finds the area especially beautiful in the winter after dark when all of the lights decorate the streets. As a young girl, when downtown with her family, she always found crossing the street at the Yonge and Dundas intersection to be particularly exhilarating.

“It’s what we used to see in the movies, hundreds of people walking in the same direction at once.”

Connection with the Past

Her mother took this photo of Maisam when she was three years old. When her father used to return from work, it was usual for Maisam to hear him and run to the door before he could make an entrance. In this photo her father is seated on the couch and Maisam is next to him wearing a belly dancing head piece. Her memories of her father are dear to her and the two of them still have a very special relationship. Looking at that picture takes Maisam back to when she felt that he was the only person she needed to make her life complete. There is something that’s very sweet and simple about it, and even now she is most content when spending time with her father.

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