Harvesting tobacco, Southern Ontario
MARIJA SINKEVIČIŪTĖ TAMULAITIENĖ
I was born in 1917 in the village of Uosupis in the district of Marijampolė in Lithuania. I was a home economics teacher in Kaunas. All of my siblings are dead.
Life as a refugee was hard, but we were raised to accept our lot, to be honest, to do our duty and work hard. It was difficult, but with a lot of resolve we were able to overcome our hardships. I was a religious person and this helped me persevere.
Into the unknown:
Our departure from Lithuania led us into a world of the unkown. We were desperate to get away from a regime that we could not tolerate. My husband and I fled with our firstborn daughter together with his sister and her family – they had two small children. We ended up in refugee camps in Blomberg Germany. Here we all worked to make sure we could educate our children – to give them life skills and knowledge that would help them to eventually establish their own lives.
Everything had been taken away from us – we were people with no rights - forced to flee our homes. Our children were the future.
We came to Canada in 1948 to work on tobacco farms in Ontario. Our only resource was the labour of our hands. This country was full of opportunity – you just had to work for it.
We are free:
Canadians were kind to me and I felt no discrimination here. I am a Lithuanian and I am glad that this country took me in and that I live in a country where I can think and speak freely, without fear of reprisals.
The future of the Lithuanian community in Canada depends solely on the next generation – on our youth. If they choose not to keep it alive – it will all have been for nothing…
The most important thing in life is to be an honest person and to do your duty diligently. Nothing in life comes easily – you have to work for it while you can.
Image sources: publicly available sources.
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