During the Sadat era, he lost many of his friends to Salafi organizations. He recalls vividly being called “kafir” by an old friend while the friend’s mother pled with him: “Yousief, Yousief, forgive him—he makes our life miserable too.” Baba kept walking, and between that and the metal factory and no college degree, it was time to move on.
I never understood what it was exactly that made my father leave until I visited Egypt for the first time as an adult. When I met his brother (my uncle) for the first time, he told me that my dad was “too honest for Egypt, and that’s why he had to leave.”
For "Arrivals and Departures: the Journeys of the Copts and their Artifacts," attendees were invited to reflect on their journeys, write a short note, and then place it on a mirror for the next participant to reflect and add upon; like ships passing in the night. These ephemeral memories stuck to a mirror only briefly, now transformed to a digital medium and retold, carry with them the experiences of Coptic emigres who’ve come to call Canada home.
On a rainy day in June 1996, my family arrived in Pearson International Airport. Both my parents are originally from the province of Sohag in Upper Egypt (Sa'eed). My father was born in the city of Tima and my mother in the city of Tahta; we are Sa'ayda.
My family and I immigrated to Toronto, Ontario in September 1994. I was two-months shy of my sixth birthday when we left our second-floor apartment in Alexandria and drove south to Cairo International Airport. I vaguely remember growing up on Roushdy Street, playing with friends in the alley between our neighboring buildings, and being able to glimpse the Mediterranean ocean from our balcony on a clear morning.