A Pair of Ivory White Heels, One Dream

Ruth Sun


We have worn many shoes of different colours and shapes in our lives. As for me, my favourite shoes are a pair of ivory white high heels. Why are they so special to me? I will share my shoe story with you. I lived in Chengdu, China, a beautiful and modern metropolis. I owned my house and had a stable job as a nursing professor at a medical university. I also had strong connections with my parents, sisters, and many friends. Every weekend was spent with family, eating delicious food, drinking tea and chatting with each other. But all of this ended after I decided to immigrate to Canada with my son. 

You might wonder why I chose to leave. In my culture, people think single parents are at fault for a failed marriage and that their kids will grow up in an unhealthy environment. As a result, the children of single parents are often bullied by their classmates. To protect my son from this experience, I decided to immigrate to Canada. As I packed my bags, I had to decide what to bring and what to leave behind. I considered bringing a pair of ivory white high heels my mother had given me as a birthday present. They were my shoes for special occasions, such as parties, graduation ceremonies and job interviews. So, I put them into my luggage. 

In September 2018, we began our life in Canada. First, I registered my son in school. Next, I had to face the English challenge. Even though I could read and write, I could not understand what people said, and people could not understand what I said either. I felt deaf and mute. But my son’s English improved quickly. After one and a half years, I graduated from a healthcare aide program and got a job working with seniors. However, this did not go well. During the first few months, I was assaulted by a client and bullied by a colleague. I did my best to stay positive and do my job, but I felt helpless and hopeless. Then I was diagnosed with severe depression, and we had to return to China. 

In May 2021, after recovering from my illness, I returned to my job as a nursing educator at a university. My son returned to his old school but told me he still loved Canada. I didn’t know if I could find the courage to face the challenges of living here again, but I was willing to sacrifice for my son. I was preparing for the journey when I found my old ivory white heels, the gift I had received from my mother long ago. They were dirty and worn out; they had “seen better days.” But I decided it was important to take them with me, hoping that some day I would wear them for happy occasions in Canada. So, I cleaned and polished them and packed them for the trip.

 In January 2022, we boarded the plane from Chengdu to Edmonton. Three weeks later, I received an email from NorQuest College, accepting me into the English as a Second Language program. I also received funding from Alberta to support my dream of becoming a nurse. I was so excited. I shared the good news with my son. He was even happier than me. Since then, we have helped and encouraged each other. Day by day, my English has improved. At the end of this school year, I will receive a scholarship from NorQuest College. Most importantly, my son will have the life he dreams of in this new country. 

Ruth immigrated to Canada with her son to avoid cultural prejudice. She experienced incredible challenges, causing an illness that forced her to go back to China . She decided to face these struggles again when she returned to Canada for the safety of her son.

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