The Welcome House Through the Eyes of Former Residents

Meet three former residents who stayed at the Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre between years 1994 and 2006.

Part 1: Tatjana Beocanin Donald - Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The war started in 1990 and we did not come to Canada until 1994. We immigrated from one province to another and were considered refugees. We were actually in a refugee camp in Belgrade Serbia for 3 years 8 months and 16 days to be quite precise. I was about 12 or 13 when we entered the camp and we got out when I was 16. That’s when we got tickets to come to Canada.
The only thing we knew about Calgary was that the Olympics was here in 1988. I came here to be reunited with our family due to the ethnic war my family was scattered around the country so Red Cross and Canadian embassy found some of our relatives reunited us in Geneva and brought us to Calgary.
The reception house was so welcoming. They knew there were people coming from the former Yugoslavia and so they would do small things to make us feel at home. They would have our music playing in the house and the cook at the time, her name was Funme, would make our traditional foods.
At 16 years old, it was really difficult being a teenager in a new country. My maturity level was much higher than a typical born and raised Canadian teenager. I had already been through war and lived in a refugee camp and dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
For a lot of refugees, this is where it all begins. I love being here because of the warmth, the warmth of the people. This is where all the support is received and this is the type of place you can always come back to. I came back to work here 20 years later. I coordinate the mentorship and employment program for the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. Specifically, I develop different programs to assist refugees. I like to use the word ‘assist’ rather than ‘help’ because Canada needs them. We need them because they help our economy and population.