The eighth annual I am London campaign showcases immigrants who provide essential services in London. Join us on the 8th of every month until December 2021 to read about our Faces of London.
“Liberty,” says Jean-Papy Kitura, “Freedom, Equality - these are the things that surprised me and my family when we arrived in Canada in 2016.” To the Kitura family, having lived in a refugee camp for over 10 years, the openness and freedom of life in Canada has been the most rewarding.
Jean-Papy left his war-torn home in the Democratic Republic of Congo soon after finishing high school in 2004 and found himself in a refugee camp in Tanzania, where he worked with various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focusing on child protection, gender equality, prevention of violence against women, etc. Even though he worked with the NGOs, Jean-Papy says travel outside the refugee camp was impossible, and he is very grateful for the opportunities that Canada offers. “I am free to work anywhere, I can protect my family, we have the right to study and the right to live peacefully. These rights are precious…” says Jean-Papy.
London has been the perfect choice for Jean-Papy and his family. “I have received tremendous support from the community, especially Carrefour Communautaire Francophone de London (CCFL). Its staff have supported my children in school and helped me find a home that is big enough for my family of six children.” The Kitura family is French-speaking and they did try to live in Montreal for a year, but returned to London as they felt that it provided the best environment to bring up their kids. “I want my children to be bilingual”, says Jean-Papy, “it will help open so much more for them”.
Jean-Papy works for Legendary Security as a security guard assigned to retail outlets in London. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns he went to work every day. “It was tough,” he says, “especially when customers were demanding, and I had to do my best to calm them down.”
He took courage and comfort from his faith, and from his family, praying that he would not bring the virus home. “I love my job”, says Jean-Papy, “I get to meet different people of different cultures and it has helped me improve my English-speaking skills.” “One of the good things to come from the pandemic,” says Jean-Papy, “is that I was able to find work as a security guard, as so many people did not want to work.” Jean-Papy is proud of his contribution to making London a safe, comfortable place during the difficult lock-down days.
Jean-Papy believes that his life experiences have equipped him to be a strong support to his community, and he constantly provides moral assistance to the sick and those in need. As a community leader he provides support and advice to newcomers. He encourages Francophone newcomers to stay connected to community organizations such as CCFL and Collège Boréal. “Being connected,” he says, “helps newcomers to learn the language quickly, find work and support the integration of our children.”
“London is beautiful,” says Jean-Papy “the environment is clean and it is quiet and peaceful.” “My kids are safe and secure,” he concludes, ”we are happy to be here”.