Baby Passport

When I was one-month old, my mother brought me from Hong Kong to Toronto so that she could land in time for her immigration application to count. To pass the border she had to apply for my passport soon after I was born, so for the first five years of my life, my passport picture was of a generic pink-faced baby, indistinguishable from any other newly born wrapped in a hospital towel. My mother’s entire family had already settled in Toronto before she and I arrived but the decision to immigrate meant leaving my father alone in Hong Kong. It was 1996, one year before Hong Kong would be returned to the Chinese government after it had been under British rule for the past century. Her decision to leave was for my benefit, nobody knew the challenges the next generation would face once communist rule was implemented. I grew up in Toronto, took my Canadian citizenship oath at 4 years old, and never once was made to feel as though I bore any signs of an immigrant. When I look at this passport, I am reminded of the sacrifices and efforts that my family made to come to the West. I owe my roots, my identity and my place in the world to my mother’s decision, one that costs her many things- including a husband. I am told I didn’t cry on the plane over, probably because my mother kept me well entertained and in comfort. It is yet another thing to thank her for, when I first arrived in the city I would come to call my hometown, I met it with a quiet bravery of my own.

Year: 1996

– Melody Chan

Relationship:  unknown unknown