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I am Sia Maro and I'm an administrative assistant in the Toronto Western management office.
I am originally from Tanzania in East Africa.
I grew up in the city, Dar es Salaam, that's on the coast. But my family is originally from what we call "Kilimanjaro Region." The city is heavily populated but it's very diverse. We have a large Asian-Indian community so our culture is infused with a lot of Arabic and Indian influences. It's a spicy existence.
My first time to Canada was in the 90s to attend school. I think I was nervous but very excited. It was my first time coming to North America so I think in a naive kind of way, I thought of it like what you see in the movies, you know, New York. So I thought, 'Oh my goodness, maybe Toronto is something similar.' So that was a bit of an exciting time for me.
I came for the purpose of my education. Thereafter, I finished, I graduated, and I decided to go back to Tanzania where I worked for 10 years. And then I decided to come back to Toronto.
My first job at UHN involved the clinical side. I was an administrative assistant to one of the mental health units, mood disorders. It was a steep learning curve in that it was my first experience working in the healthcare sector. It was also my first experience working with individuals with mental health. So that really opened my eyes to the various types of mental health and how it affects everybody in different ways and to different degrees.
It taught me how to bring up the most empathy and passionate side of me and try to understand some of the struggles that people go through mentally, although we don't see it physically but they're struggling.
Now, I've moved to the management office where the work is different. There's no patient contact. It's more behind-the-scenes of helping the management team run the hospital.
In one word, I'm happy. I really love what I'm doing. I love the people I work with. They're intelligent people. They are compassionate people and they're very understanding, and they're very professional in what they do. This gives me confidence in my work and every day is a little different. It's not always the same. That I do enjoy.
Canadians are very friendly people. They're polite and respectful, around me whether I'm running my own errands around town or as my colleagues here at work, my neighbours. People are very civil and very polite. To me that is important personally.
Looking at the Charter of Rights, where people have the freedom to speak, the freedom of association, the freedom of religion. All these freedoms that we have. You live it everyday. I look at the media. I can read so much and people are free to express their opinions. The fact that you can do it freely, and I may disagree with what you say but you have the right to say it.
That's very unique. It's not everywhere. To me, that is fantastic and it's a value that I personally embrace, a society that allows anybody and everybody to be who they want. You are the captain of your ship and you drive that ship to your own success and you define what your own success is and Canada gives you that opportunity to do that and I like that.
You don't completely forget or abandon where you come from. That is with you till your last breath. But I think home can be anywhere at any given time. I think Canada, where you can create your peace and your happiness and your comfort, makes it home. That's what home is, right.
That's what Canada means to me. That is home now.