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.
Conrod Tucker, Construction Worker, "By volunteering you are helping others while also helping yourself."
Soft spoken and gentle, Conrod Tucker is a deeply spiritual family man, who loves to volunteer his time and share his blessings with his community. “By volunteering you are helping others while also helping yourself as you get a chance to network and meet people from various backgrounds. You build friendships,” he observes.
Conrod trained as an accountant in Jamaica, but when he arrived in Canada in July 2010 with his wife and young daughter, he found himself accepting work in construction to pay the bills and provide for his family.
Conrod has continued to work in construction while studying for his Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) certification and saving to buy a house. He believes that he will get there, but in the meantime, he does his work with dedication, humility and joy, grateful for the many opportunities that Canada provides. “A home is a basic need, providing a sense of security and stability,” says Conrod, “and I get to be a part of that through my work”.
Conrod lives by his faith, and this is evident in the way in which he gives back – whether it is through the work he does at his church, the food drives he organizes with his co-workers, or taking his daughter to volunteer at the London Food Bank as part of her birthday celebrations. “We teach generosity by example,” he says. “It is really fulfilling to be able to give back especially as we are so blessed. It may not be money, but we give our time.”
Conrod has worked throughout the pandemic. Although he was afraid initially, his prayer and faith gave him courage. “I was looking at the bigger picture”, says Conrod. “There are people who bought new houses with pre-set closing dates. Some had already sold their existing home, so we worked tirelessly to ensure we met those deadlines, while following all the health guidelines.”
Conrad believes that all the front line, essential workers in every industry should know how grateful we are for the work they do. “On behalf of all Canadians, I want to say thank you and that we appreciate the work that you are doing. Be encouraged and know that what you do matters. It’s a challenging time for us all but we will get through this together. Stay healthy, stay safe, stay strong”.
“At the end of the day”, says Conrod, “you are making a difference no matter how small and that is very satisfying.”
“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”.