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Asian Heritage Month - Jaiza Razick only has two words: “I’m home”

In honour of Asian Heritage Month, we asked Jaiza Razick, Supervisor of Inventory Management for OMNI Television, Rogers Sports & Media, to share her experience on growing up in Sri Lanka, immigrating to Canada and how she keeps her culture and heritage alive with her family.

Here is what she had to say:

What brought you to Canada?

Growing up in Sri Lanka was beautiful. The culture is very traditional, and its heritage and legacy are very strong.  After graduating, I started my career in advertising and moved into international media buying and selling, moving up the ranks until I became senior in my role. I got married quite early, as many other Lankan girls, and my life was as good as it could be – but the free spirit in me wanted to move out of my little country.

My husband and I have always been avid travellers, and early in my marriage, we decided that moving to another country and immersing ourselves in a new culture was what we wanted.

The moment I arrived in Victoria, British Columbia, I felt like I was home. My very first steps of the airplane and the wind on my face made me feel like “I am here to stay.”

Sri Lankan’s are very happy, friendly, and generous people, and the misconception is that we come to a foreign land and we forget who we are and absorb the surroundings we live in. I was able to balance my life with both cultures which gave me a better understanding of who I am and what I want in life.

Tell us about starting your career in Canada.

When we arrived in Victoria, I got a job within a few months of landing as a Resident. I was privileged enough to find something in my field, and I will never take that for granted because I know that there are many new immigrants that do not have the same experience as I had. 

What I have learned is that in my career, there are many variables beyond my control. I can’t control what I look like, my hair colour, my accent, or where I come from. But there are things within my control like my strong work ethic, resiliency, and my strong desire to succeed that I can use to my advantage. 

People often ask me if I felt any racism as I was building my career here. I will acknowledge that racism exists, but I was lucky enough not to experience much of it. What I can control is how I approach it, and my attitude in wake of this racial epidemic. I choose to educate people on my culture, and my abilities and hope that they will learn, evolve and be accepting of all cultures.

Your daughters are being raised as first-generation Canadians, and their experience growing up in Canada is quite different from your experience growing up in Sri Lanka. Tell us about that.

Some may think that there are cultural gaps between immigrant parents and first-generation Canadian children. I do think it is important to teach my girls about their heritage, but I believe that it should be done in moderation. I am always willing to teach them about our culture, the food, religion, and the way that I dress, but I do not try to force them to conform to any culture unless they choose to.  I want them to develop their own sense of who they are, but more than anything, I want to stress to my girls that this is such a great time for tolerance and openness. We see so much diversity and culture in Canada, and all of us, regardless of our backgrounds, should have the same freedoms and opportunities as everyone else, without having to sacrifice our authenticity. I am so excited for what the future brings!

I’ve brought them back to Sri Lanka several times to give them a sense of where we came from. They love the beaches, the mountains, and they love meeting family. Although I miss Sri Lanka from time to time, Canada is my home. I have always felt embraced by this country. I’ve felt that way ever since I first landed here, and even more so now that I’ve built my life here.