It is almost six years since August Paw, Thaw Thi and their daughter Hser Dri Htoo arrived in Kimberley after a long journey from a refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border.
Brought to Canada by the East Kootenay Friends of Burma, they arrived to a new home furnished by volunteers, and began the transition into Kimberley, and Canadian, society, helped along the way by volunteers.
Over the past six years, much of their extended family has been brought to Canada as well, and they have another daughter Ku Lueh Tha, who was born in Canada.
Last Thursday, in Kelowna, August Paw and Thaw Thi proudly took their Oath of Citizenship and became Canadians.
“It’s been a long road for this hardworking family. They’ve been studying non-stop since they found out that their application was accepted almost two years ago. I’ve never seen anyone so dedicated,” said Pam Bailie, CBAL’s ESLSAP (English as a Second Language Settlement Assistance Program) coordinator for Kimberley.
August Paw and Thaw Thi would like to thank all the CBAL volunteers who helped them on this journey to citizenship:
“A great big heartfelt thank you to Heather King, Gayle Webb, Ellen Chase, Cailey Chase, Flo Brokop, Ken McRae, and Ali Douglas for the countless hours spent teaching Canadian history, politics, geography and culture. It was all worth it.”
“We wouldn’t have passed the test if it hadn’t been for the CBAL program and all their volunteers. They spent so much time with us and it was very hard. Thank you so much. And thank you to Susan for driving us to Kelowna so that we could take the test and to Pam who took us to our ceremony. We are very happy now.”
“EK Friends of Burma is very proud of August Paw and Thaw Thi for passing the increasingly difficult Citizenship test,” said Shaunna Jimenez of Friends of Burma.
“This family has flourished in Kimberley thanks to the wonderful support of so many friendly, helpful residents.
Whether it is Ted from across the alley teaching Thaw Thi how to winterize his car, David teaching him how to set up a barbecue, or Mary taking them for their first grocery shopping trip, so many Kimberley volunteers have made becoming Canadian a wonderful experience for this family.
“Friends of Burma sponsored this couple as part of August Paw’s extended family to Kimberley in 2008 and continue to voluntarily provide support to this large family. More volunteers are always needed; for example, right now the children could use some help with their homework.”
EKFOB has also sponsored Thaw Thi’s extended parents to Cranbrook and are seeking volunteers to help them with their English skills. Under the new regulations, newcomers cannot apply for Citizenship until they have a benchmark 4 level of English. At the current level of ESL instruction available to Thaw Thi’s parents (1 hour/week), it will take decades to get to this level. That is why volunteers are so crucial in this process!
If you would like to volunteer to assist Friends of Burma in Kimberley, phone Shauna at 250-422-3259. If you would like to volunteer in Cranbrook, phone Barb at 250-426-6559.