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Born in Trindade, São Tomé and Príncipe |

After leaving her home to study in Taiwan, Selma moved with her then-husband to Canada first to Montreal then Toronto. She came to Canada with many dreams and desires but things did not work as she had hoped. Still she remains confident that she will succeed in this new country. Her daughter makes Selma feel more like Toronto is home, since she was born here and continues to grow up here. She says she is struggling with her career and financial situation especially as a single mother, but she still knows she will watch her daughter grow up in a developed and safe country where she will have every opportunity she deserves. Currently she is working as a Customer Service Representative, a job she is doing to survive.

Toronto as Home

Selma wanted to be photographed at Impact Lives Church in Etobicoke where she attends service twice a week. This is a place where she feels at peace and with family, even though it is just her and her daughter here in Canada. Before going to church she felt lost, overwhelmed, and so she turned to God. A large part of the church members are from various parts of Africa. Originally she was invited by an Angolan family, and now they are very important people in her life. Since she has joined the church she says she has become stronger.

Connection with the Past

Selma is holding a traditional shawl which goes around the waist and is thrown over the shoulder as a sign of respect when greeting someone. This is specifically used by elderly people and developed from Portuguese colonization like so many habits in her home. Selma explains how São Tomé and Príncipe was formed by placing slaves from different countries together, mainly from Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique. The traditional attire for the ladies is a kimono top and a skirt below the knee (from Principe island the skirt is long). The shawl is tied around the waist and thrown over the shoulder in a diagonal way. For men it’s a suit (most of the time black color) and a hat. One thing that distinguishes São Toméans from others African countries is their clothes. When Selma wears her traditional outfit she feels beautiful, unique and proud of her background.

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