Oh yes, they do.
In my 4th week here, attending interviews out and about in the York University area, I chanced upon a ‘Missing’ poster. It came complete with a full description of the physical features of the missing person. She was a young, undergraduate, last seen a couple of weeks before, at a bus station, walking home. My first reaction was shock, then disbelief and probably horror. I think the reason for my shock was that I wasn’t expecting this kind of news… especially here I thought… Bad news?
In the six months before I arrived in Toronto from Lagos, I had fantasised about this amazing country I was moving to. It seemed to be everything Nigeria wasn’t. I had created this linear image of purity, and saintliness of my new home, so that my discovery of this ‘Missing’ poster didn’t fit in with that make-believe image in my mind.
The lighthearted Vlogs and stories about Canada do not adequately prepare you for this side. If you Google moving to Canada now, you would easily find happy and smiling faces of diverse people telling you why Canada is the destination of choice for new immigrants. And this is correct to a great extent. Canada holds several opportunities for both it’s new landed immigrants just arriving and citizens who thrive here. But that is a single story… Incomplete… Undeviating.
I guess in my haste to convince myself that leaving home to move to the other side of the world was the best decision for me, I had to justify to myself that this place is everything home hasn’t been for me. I created harsh dichotomies between the two countries and continents. I’m still learning about living here, but maybe this is why after several years abroad, people move back to their home countries. It’s exchanging one type of madness for another. Maybe madness isn’t really confined to any area or country or continent of the world.
Since that fateful afternoon a month ago, other sad incidents have occurred. A white van was driven into a sidewalk in April, crashing and injuring pedestrians on Yonge & Finch intersection, in North York. In Mississauga four weeks ago, two young men detonated an explosive device on a busy Thursday evening in a restaurant while people were trying to have an enjoyable time with their families. Across the street from my host’s home in Stouffville three weeks ago (before I relocated from the area), I heard of a hit and run incident and a fatality was recorded. Just three days ago, two young girls were shot and injured in a playground in Scarborough. All these incidents happened within a space of 8 weeks that I have been here, plus many more sad events that I have shut my mind off of. I have found that the easiest way to dampen my day and cause myself anxiety is to watch the city news channel for more than 5 minutes at a go.
Bad things happen everywhere every day. Even in countries like Canada that has been voted 2nd best country to live in and 8th safest place in the world. It may not happen with the frequency with which some of us have gotten used to. But it happens nonetheless.
These days, whenever I discover a ‘Missing’ poster, I say a prayer in my heart that the lost person is found and returned home to their loved ones.