Born in Vientiane, Laos |
After fleeing communist Laos, Soupie’s family spent seven years living in Thailand in two different refugee camps before her family was sponsored to come to Thunder Bay. Her parents believed that coming to Canada would give their children a “better life”. Landing in Thunder Bay at age nine was very difficult for Soupie and her parents, especially for her Mom as they were the community’s first Laotian family. They didn’t speak a word of English and they left Thunder Bay after two months. Soupie’s mother had a cousin in Toronto and the family went to live with him until they were able to find work. Soupie says she can’t imagine the pressure and stress her parents must have been feeling during this period while they were trying to support three children. She is extremely thankful for her parents’ sacrifice and “proud to be [her] parent’s daughter”. After extensive travel, she feels most safe and comfortable with her heritage and who she is when she is in Toronto. Soupie works in the city as a hairstylist and has had her own business for nearly eight years. This job fits her lifestyle perfectly at the present time. She also has her Early Childhood Education (ECE) and someday would like to work with children with special needs and try to make a difference in the world.
Toronto as Home
Soupie is a devoted Toronto Maple Leafs fan. She remembers when she first arrived in Toronto and watched a Leafs game. Having no idea at the time what the game was all about, she says “I knew it was going to become part of my life. Win or lose they bring Torontonians together”. It doesn’t matter “where in the world you’re from or what religion you believe in. All that matters is you’re wearing a blue and white jersey”. Around the Air Canada Centre and at the Real Sports Bar and shop, Soupie really feels at home.
Connection with the Past
It is her Canadian passport that connects Soupie to Laos as it allows her to visit there. The last time she visited was December 2010. She says her country of birth will always be in her heart, especially because most of her family is still there. This important possession also connects her to the rest of the world as she says “without it [she] would be trapped [but] with it [she is] free”.