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'We came to a place where … we would be safe'
« on: July 02, 2016, 08:02:06 AM »
'We came to a place where … we would be safe'

When Tracy Jones left Salinas, Calif., and moved to Ottawa, she left behind the beaches, palm trees and year-round warm weather. She also left behind a life of abuse.

When Tracy Jones left Salinas, Calif., and moved to Ottawa, she left behind the beaches, palm trees and year-round warm weather. She also left behind a life of abuse.


On Friday, nine years after seeking refuge in Ottawa from domestic violence, she finally became an official Canadian citizen along with 49 others at a ceremony hosted near the Bytown Museum on Friday.


“I feel relieved — finally home, finally able to breathe,” said Jones, standing next to her 24-year-old son, Joseph and 25-year-old daughter, Nicole — who also became citizens.


“I’m a survivor of domestic abuse and it was an incredibly catastrophic event that made us decide to leave,” Jones said. “So we came to a place where we felt we would be safe and we couldn’t have asked for a better place to go.”


Standing in the sweltering Canada Day heat, she recalled the cold evening in February 2007 when she landed at Ottawa’s airport with her children in tow.


“When we got out of the airport we were hit with the cold weather and you don’t know you have nose hairs until they freeze,” said Jones, laughing alongside her now-adult kids.


The coldest temperature the three had experienced back in California was about 10 C, explained Joseph. Therefore, stepping onto Canadian soil with less-than-adequate winter gear didn’t help the fact that they were embarking on a new life in a new city with no friends or family to speak of.


Luckily for them, a colleague from Jones’ job back in Salinas was the son of two very hospitable parents who happened to live in Ottawa. 


“The lovely couple brought us in and treated us like family. Now we are family — I married their son and now they’re in-laws,” Jones said.


The move, she admitted, came with a series of lifestyle adjustments. One of those, she joked, was learning that warm always trumps fashionable when it comes to dressing in the winter.


Another was realizing that having Canadian friends meant having impromptu guests showing up at her home without warning, said Jones, jokingly.


“People are very nice — treating us like friends from day one.”


Reflecting on instances where she has been asked why she moved from sunny California to often-snowy Ottawa, the response she often gives is “Why wouldn’t we?” she said.


“It’s an amazing city and an amazing country and we couldn’t be more proud and happy to be here.” 


The citizenship ceremony was hosted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and co-hosted by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and Parks Canada. It was one of 70 held annually across the country.


Twitter.com/Aidan4jrn 


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