Natalia Story author: Natalia Story language: English

I’m with my little sister Yuliya. I’m 20, she’s 14. We’re at Pearson Airport, Toronto. My heart beats faster with excitement and fear at the same time. But I don’t show it, because I don’t want to lose my cool in front of my younger sister. At that moment, without realizing it, we became each other’s mother, father, best friend, and the whole family; we were all that was left.

I had no idea then how many challenges I would have to go through… I didn’t come to Canada to marry a millionaire and didn’t win the jackpot in the lottery… For me, immigration, like probably for many, became a school of survival.

Until then, my sister and I lived in Ukraine with our mother, who is a classical pianist, vocalist and choir conductor and who raised us singing from an early age. We had a family trio. One of the songs in the repertoire that our mother taught us was this song about emigration “Remember”.  Probably because this topic had already touched our family, as our father had been living in exile for 10 years and we had never seen him during that time. Now, my sister and I are singing this song, just the two of us, since our mother stayed to live in Ukraine.

Before emigrating, I graduated from different schools where I studied singing, culture, art and design. I loved it all and was ready to pursue my passion. But instead, I was selling sausages in Canada. I loved and studied everything related to Ukrainian culture: ancient songs, clothes, rituals, mythology, but after moving, all these became completely irrelevant and unnecessary. Moreover, generally, locals didn’t know of such a country and culture, they just thought all of Eastern Europe was Russia…

For the first 5-7 years of immigration, I could not even dream of pursuing my profession – art and music, because in the struggle for survival I had to do what was available. However, after long depressions and a hard daily routine, this is what saved me, I started to do again what I knew best. The more I sang, the better my life became. Not better financially, just better overall.

Then came another immigration – this time to Montreal, Quebec. Again the need to learn a completely foreign French language from zero and find my place in society, although this time I was more fortunate to have solid support – my life partner, Eli. Now in Montreal, Eli (who is Canadian but learned the Ukrainian language) and I have founded the Murmurosi duo, in which we sing ancient Ukrainian songs and talk about Ukrainian culture with a multicultural audience in Canada and the world. My paintings are sold in Montreal boutiques and even my mother came to visit for the first time last summer. 2020 marks 10 years since I left my homeland. Life is getting better and everything is just beginning…