From Gucci to Skechers

Sayda Atta Elmanan (+Video)


Seeking freedom and a better life for her family, Sayda leaves behind her world of luxury in the Persian Gulf and comes to Canada where she has nobody to clean her house or carry her groceries to her car. She is shocked by the stark differences between the lifestyle she once enjoyed and her new lifestyle. Although it’s tough at first, she starts her journey in Canada by replacing her fancy Gucci shoes with a pair of practical Skechers.       


Gucci was my favourite shoe in my homeland. My elegant, soft, violet Guccis took me to fancy places, where fancy was the overall idea. I formed so many memories with those shoes that I never imagined I could ever make them my second choice. But that pair of Gucci shoes is not my favourite any longer. 

My story is different. It’s the move through—and not within—reality, where you recognize the essentials of life, where you understand that “Not all that glitters is gold.” I was born and raised in the Gulf where money wasn’t a struggle for our family, where you call the supermarket which is downstairs in your building if you need a chocolate or even a piece of paper. When I needed gas for my car, someone would always be there to fill my gas tank. Our full-time house maid was always there to make my life neat and easy. Even when I went grocery shopping at a big supermarket, there was always someone to pack and carry my bags of groceries to my car. 

Wearing my fancy Gucci shoes, I came to Canada with my fancy dreams. I thought I’d have the same lifestyle in Canada. But I got shocked by the reality. I must do everything by myself here, I must depend on myself. The person that used to fill up my car with gas is not here anymore. I don’t have someone to pack my stuff when I do my grocery shopping. I suffered a lot at the beginning. I looked at my Gucci shoes and told them, “I believe you should be parked somewhere where I cannot see you. I need a new pair of shoes to start the parade of my new journey.” And so, I bought a pair of Skechers for my new life. 

At the beginning, I thought that I could never continue my life in Canada. But after a couple of years, I realized that Canada is the best place to live. It’s a country that welcomes you and helps you identify new horizons, a country that respects human being and humanity. I made the decision that Canada is the place where I want to live and raise my children.

In the Gulf, many people are suffering. Many children don’t go to school because their parents don’t have enough money. I was lucky that I didn’t have this experience, but I know for a fact that it’s happening. People may not be treated in hospitals because they don’t have enough money. I have never seen these things in Canada. Education and health are basic human rights anyone should have, even if he or she doesn’t have money. 

I’ve realized that Canada is a country that offers its permanent residents many opportunities to grow and prosper, and they are treated as equal to Canadians citizens. In other parts of the world, unless you are a national, if you get fired from your work, you lose your resident status (which is never permanent) until you get another job, and if you don’t get a job, you must leave the country no matter what’s happening in your own country. I know now that expensive things are not always the best, and a fancy life is not what we really need. What’s important is the essentials of a civilized community.

With my new Skechers, I’ve seen the real meaning of humanity and freedom. I’m so glad that the Gucci shoes brought me to Canada. I’ve learned that what we like is not always the best for us. That’s why I’m continuing my journey with Skechers now in my new homeland. 

Sayda Atta Elmanan, originally from Sudan, was raised in the Gulf. She is the mother of three young daughters: Jouri, Hala and Maria. In 2019, she immigrated to Canada in search of better career opportunities for her husband and herself as well as a better life for her children. She recently found a job after three years of job hunting.

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