Skip to main content

Rediscovering Life

December 17, 2019

Gloria arrived in Canada less than a year ago from Nigeria, fleeing persecution for being a queer woman. Despite the trauma she had endured, and the challenges she is currently facing as a refugee claimant, she is determined to pave her way to success.

Gloria likes to stay busy and volunteers often for various events and programs at The 519. Her vibrant personality and social nature shines through even as she talks about her challenging journey to Canada.

I came to Canada with no plan except to save my life. I was really unwell, very scared, and did not know a single person here.

She remembers seeing a flyer about The 519 in the shelter she was staying at, but she was very cautious about inquiring further. Like many other LGBTQ refugee claimants, coming out as a queer person in a public space felt like an unfamiliar and overwhelming experience at the time. It was only after hearing about The 519 at the church she was attending, she decided to explore further. When she eventually made her way a few weeks later, she immediately registered as a volunteer as she waited to enrol in our Among Friends LGBTQ refugee support program.

If I had not come to The 519, I would not have been able to pick up the pieces of my life. I wouldn’t have found my chosen family.

Despite facing many barriers to housing and employment, she is meeting all the challenges head on. Her persistence led to her getting a coveted spot in an employment program and a certification course in network engineering – compatible with her professional background in Information Technology. She is eager to find employment and is invested in building community connections through her volunteer work, and participation in the Among Friends program. She feels that gaining more information about navigating the systems and the barriers they pose is extremely important for LGBTQ newcomers and refugees. The sense of community, and meeting people with similar lived experiences offered the support she needed to feel safe to live life as an out queer woman.

Among Friends really helped me re-build my confidence. I have become more social and have learnt so much about the LGBTQ2S communities in Toronto. I have finally been able to come out with pride.”

As Gloria continues to work towards stability, she is focused on preparing for her hearing. With support from Legal Aid and The 519’s Among Friends program, she is hopeful that her sacrifices and hard work will lead to a safer and more stable life.