Family Comes to Canada (1988-1990)

My Parents immigrated from the Czech Republic. They escaped the communist regime in 1988 as my father drove right through the border from former Yugoslavia to Austria without stopping, with my mom and two brothers (6 and 4 at the time) in the backseat. This was done with only the belongings that would fit in the car and with the uncertainty of ever seeing the family they left behind. This hard decision was made with the hopes of providing a better life for their children (my two bothers and, eventually, me).

From the end of 1988 and throughout much of 1989 they lived in Northeastern Austria and my father, Milos, worked long hours at low wages in a small town to save up enough money for the trip to Canada. Finally in the summer of 1989, the time was right.

The town of Vernon, a small city in the Okanagan Valley with a population of about 35,000 and about a four and a half hour drive from Vancouver, was the destination. My father's brother, Bob, was the reason for my parents' choice in this location. He had escaped a few years earlier and was residing there with a family of his own which included my two cousins, Milos and Ivona. My parents took up english classes and began the first steps of learning the unfamiliar language. My father (previously working as a plant manager of a Dairy factory back home) started working two jobs, one at the local Brewery and the other at Rogers Foods flour mill. My mother (a kindergarden school teacher in the Czech Republic) started to babysit and took gardening and housekeeping jobs. They placed my brothers, Tom (7) and Petr (5), who of course spoke no English as well, into an elementary school. This elementary school was French immersion, so they started learning two new languages at once. My family took residency in an apartment which they started off renting.

I was born in the local hospital, on June 23rd, 1990, not long after they had settled down in Vernon.