My Heart Wants What It Wants

Tenzin Phentok (+Video)


I was one of a thousand people chosen from my village to come to Canada. We were welcomed in Ottawa, and the Tibet Project people made us comfortable. Unable to find work there, I moved to Alberta and soon found a job in Banff. One day, shopping with my sister-friend, my eyes caught some beautiful black boots. I couldn’t resist… 


It was winter in Delhi when I got a call from my auntie telling me that I had been chosen to go to Canada. I was so excited and surprised. I asked her how…? My auntie explained how it came about. 

Our leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, first requested the resettlement of stateless Tibetan people in 2007, but Canada rejected that first request. Only in 2009, working with the new Minister of Immigration for Canada, could this project begin—and even then, it took two years to get approval for the project, which is entirely funded by private donors and volunteers. 

One thousand people from our villages were to be chosen. Our people gathered names from each house, and then the lucky draws started—and I was one of those thousand names. Then came a long process of interviews and medical check-ups, but I was still stateless in India, with no passport, and I could hardly believe I would get to Canada one day. 

I finally arrived in Canada in April 2014, along with three others from the same place. We were welcomed so well in Ottawa, with beautiful scarves and lots of pictures. We felt touched and emotional, seeing their love and care. We arrived at night and only went outside the next day—it was so cold! 

It’s a beautiful dream to know I can now look after my sisters and family. If I was still in India, I don’t think I could do that. So, I thank the Canadian government, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and everyone who worked for this Tibet Project. I am glad that I am here. We were lucky to be helped, but I faced trouble when it was time to get a job. Over and over, I applied, and I always failed. It was hard to get a job in Ottawa. I spent four months working part-time. At last, through friends in Calgary and the Tibet Project Society, I did a Skype interview for the Banff Centre. I got the job, and I’m still working there! 

One time on my day off, I went to Calgary to see my friend Achi Dechen—she’s more like a sister; we know each other from back home. We went to the mall, of course. In the Aldo shop, I saw a pair of beautiful black boots, with a chain on the upper and a block heel, soft and warm inside. I checked the price. A bit too expensive, but my heart was set on those boots. They were so comfy and looked perfect on me. My sister Achi knew that I had just started working and didn’t have much money—but MY HEART WANTS WHAT IT WANTS! 

I thought a lot at the moment and decided I had to buy those boots. But when my turn came to pay, my sister butted in. I tried to stop her, but she insisted, and she paid the bill. 

When I wear those boots and people comment on how nice they are, I just smile and say thank you very kindly. The boots are more than two years old, but I still wear them, and I love them so much. 

I took them with me on my winter trip to India last year, and my younger sister loved them too. She begged me to leave them for her, but I didn’t! I told her, “Sorry, they’re a gift! I can’t give them away!” Then I promised to buy a pair of boots for her. But still, every time I talk to her, she asks me for my black boots. 

TENZIN PHENTOK is Tibetan, born in India. She came to Canada with the help of the Tibet Project Society in 2014. She is now helping her younger sisters join her in Canada.

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