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In our life as humans we go through lots of up and downs, the downs are temporary and help create the motive, the ups are permanent and contribute shaping our present and future for the rest of our life.

Life also could surprise you with the nicest way by introducing you to a real heroes who works in shadow all the time, help and support you and never ask for anything in return, British Columbia Muslim Association BCMA and it’s management as example. 

I still remember the three faces waiting me at Vancouver airport, one of them became more like a public figure with years, Mr. Shawkat, and no matter what I may become in the future or where I live within Canada, BCMA and other Canadian individuals will always be the one opened the door for me to become a Canadian citizen. 

PERHAPS its life mocking me again, PERHAPS it’s a coincidence or fate, or simply nothing, but the only apple tree I came across so far in Canada is the one located in my backyard. 

Every day, when I woke up and start working on my Turkish coffee, -the same way we do back home- while listening to what we used to listen back home -Fairuz- I look through my small kitchen window and there it is, untidy tangled branches with few leaves, some apples fell under it, minimum care, with few attention, Standing alone, quietly and peacefully belonging to the ground. 

There also, on the other side of the ocean, is my birth city, with its famous reputation for apples, the city of apples and grapes they call it. 

it’s the same moon shines over the apple trees here and there, the same sky, air and sun, same rain and snow, the same eyes who used to look there is now looking here, same soul, life, and person. I still don’t know if its life mocking me, if it’s a coincidence, fate, nothing or if it’s a blessing, what I am SURE of is one thing: this tree, the small window, the smell and taste of my coffee and the moon, they all feel like home.

You should be happy, a friend of mine said, it’s the most important day of your life, your ceremony day, the day you become officially a Canadian, you were waiting for this for so long, congratulations, you are one of us now! don’t forget to buy a FLAG, she added! 

PERHAPS she was right! PERHAPS…. PERHAPS, but if so, what is it I was feeling the day I shoveled snow for the first time from my driveway in whistler, the first time I skied, and had maple syrup and Putin, the day I start saying I am sorry and thank you countless times with no obvious reasons? What is it I was feeling the day I saw a Moss for the first time, or had my first true winter season up north, or the day I signed up for the Canadian Red Cross drivingallacross BC so I could pay back to the society who once helped me. What is it was feeling the day I woke up 5 AM to support the Canadian national soccer team in the latest world tournament? 

One thing I am again SURE of:This day Is important yes, but just to become more Canadian. I was Canadian the day a Canadian immigration officer visited me at detention centre in Malaysia, and the day my plan touched the ground for the first time at Vancouver airport, I am happy as it is a celebration and announcement for what I already felt -and still- more than four years ago,I am going to buy a FLAG, and it is going to be a big, big one!

PERHAPS some humans are destined to live between two worlds and belong to two different cultures and civilization, and no matter in which one they lived, they will miss the other one. PERHAPS our homeland as refugees or newcomers is not as far away as we thought or imagined. PERHAPS it lives within us unified with our souls and forming our genes, stay when we stay and leave with us when we leave. PERHAPS we are the meaning of our home…PERHAPS!!

One thing I am SURE of: we, as refuges, has two homes, one we gained by birth, we love, adore and miss, the one hold our childhood memories, family, cousins, schools and the first crush, the one we want to see safe, happy and prosperous, the one presented in our past. And the second one, the present and the future, the one we choose to belong to with a free well, the one gave us the chance to feel our dignity, voice and value as individuals, the one who showed us hope and welcome us with an open arm, the one who taught us what dose it mean to be a free person with rights and obligations, and how democracy works! No one choose to be refugee, that is for SURE, but SURE enough, they all will choose to be Canadian if they could, as someone once wrote “everyone around the world is Canadian, it just take more time for some of them to get here”

PERHAPS the FLAG is a mean of protection for some, a passport they can travel with without being stopped or questioned at airports, giving them the chance to visit countries they never dreamed of, PERHAPS the FLAG is an embassy to which they turn to when needed. PERHAPS it’s a better future for their children, a free education, a free health care or some government support.….PERHAPS…PERHAPS!!

The SURE thing for me  is; there is no perfect country, such counties exist in books only, there are struggles, difficulties, challenging, there are ups and downs, pros and cons, but despite all of that, the story I am going to tell my children one day is: “Once upon the time, there was a man with no hope, stuck in limbo, once upon the time, there was a man fighting his main battle in life, alone, cold, desperate, hopeless, powerless, and voiceless, a man who dreamed of a better life no more, Once upon the time there was a country they call Canada and people they call Canadians, once upon the time there was a FLAG with a maple leaf on it who made the difference.”

Yes, I am going to buy a FLAG and it’s going to be a big, big, big one!

Hassan Al Kontar is seen here received by BCMA officials Shawkat Hasan and Nasib Ali at Vancouver International Airport upon arrival to Canada 2018..

Formerly stateless Syrian refugee Hassan garnered a lot of social media attention in 2018 after living in limbo in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport for seven months. Now, after many years, he got Canadian passport January 11- 2023.