Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 129

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

The Honourable Mobina S. B. Jaffer

Expression of Thanks

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, as we all come together this holiday season to celebrate peace, love and unity, I would like to take a moment to reflect on what I am grateful for.

As many of you know, 40 years ago my family along with thousands of other Asians sought refuge from Idi Amin’s Uganda. In August 1972, when Idi Amin declared that all Ugandan Asians had one month to leave the country, our lives began to crumble. As fear filled the streets, my family and many others had to come to terms with the reality that we would soon be forced to flee the only home we had ever known.

Not only was Uganda the country where we were born, it was the country where we were educated and the country we helped to build. In fact, as a young girl, I remember admiring my father, Sherali Bandali Jaffer, a politician who dedicated his life to creating a peaceful, prosperous and, most importantly, independent Uganda.


However, despite the fact that we lost our homes, our businesses and everything that we had spent our lives working for, Ugandan Asians were very fortunate. Under the leadership of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, many countries welcomed us. Great Britain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Australia, United States and Canada — all were willing to give us asylum.

His Highness Karim Aga Khan worked with Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and helped thousands of Ugandan Asians find a home in Canada. Ugandan Asians will always be grateful to these two people for rescuing us.

To this day, I am truly astounded by the kindness and generosity afforded to Ugandan refugees by Canadians, who welcomed us into their country and their homes and allowed us to rebuild all that we had lost. I am especially grateful to immigration officials like Mike Molloy, who risked their own safety to go into prisons where Ugandan Asians were being held captive and personally place them on planes headed to Canada.

Honourable senators, every year at this time I reminisce about the first Christmas I spent in this great country, and I am eternally grateful. This year, as I celebrate my fortieth year in Canada, I would like to say “thank you” to all Canadians who welcomed my family, along with many others just like ours, for giving us the opportunity to call Canada our home.

I would also like to personally thank my mentor, to whom I will always be indebted, the Honourable Thomas Anthony Dohm, Q.C., who taught me what it meant to be Canadian.

Honourable senators, I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank my fellow Canadians for opening up their minds, their hearts and their homes to Ugandan Asians. Thank you.