Born in Vilnius, Lithuania |
Vytas appreciates the city’s diversity, but still believes that for most immigrants a “sense of home comes only when they start creating that ‘home’ around themselves. Like birds, building a nest.” This is what he and his wife continue to do, transforming their home and yard into their “very own oasis in Toronto.” These transformations embody the fusion of past and present. Currently Vytas works as a Database Administrator at Tucows – a company he’s known since his very first Internet experience in the 90s, and which happened to become his first employer in Canada.
Toronto as Home
For Vytas his garden is where he feels “at home”. It was in Toronto he and his wife learned the importance and benefits of native plants and sustainable gardening. This led to them replacing their boring lawn with all kinds of flowers, shrubs and trees, that attract butterflies, bees, birds and other wildlife. He says their “garden changes in appearance throughout the seasons, warming [their] hearts and drawing in the eyes of those who pass by”.
Connections with the Past
Vytas is honoured to have inherited his maternal grandfather’s amber cufflinks. Baltic amber, which these are made of, is often called “the gold of Lithuania” since it is from there and Lithuania has a long tradition in making jewelry from it. His grandfather had to flee his homeland at the end of WWII, leaving his wife and two week old daughter (Vytas’ mother) behind. The re-occupation of Lithuania by USSR was underway and staying would have meant he would have been deported to labour camps in Siberia. As explained by Vytas, during the first occupation in 1940-1941, Soviets arrested and deported thousands of Lithuanian politicians, officers, teachers, clergy, farmers, business people and other “enemies of the Soviet rule”. Mass deportations continued from 1944 to 1952 and affected an estimated 276,000 people. His grandfather found a new home in Canada where he lived for five decades. Only after Lithuania regained independence was he able to go back. Unfortunately his wife had passed away by then, so they never met again.