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Manitoba may reach record in newcomers

By: Carol Sanders

Christmas came early for a Winnipeg man reunited with his family after 12 years.

“I’m very lucky,” said Zeleke Eliso Tuloro, who fled Ethiopia in 2002. “You cannot believe it!” enthused the former teacher. “We will celebrate Christmas.”

Thursday’s arrival of his wife and three children is helping to push the number of immigrants coming to Manitoba in 2014 toward a possible record.

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In the first nine months of 2014, Manitoba received 12,772 newcomers, a 32.8 per cent increase over the same period last year (9,615), a provincial spokesman said. At this rate, the province could see more than 17,000 newcomers by 2015.

In 2013, Manitoba welcomed 13,100 immigrants and refugees. The arrival of refugees alone this year is about the same as last year, with about 1,081 in the first nine months of 2014, the province says.

The final tally is usually released in February by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The last time Tuloro saw his children, they were 10, six and three years old. Today, they’re 22, 18 and 15.

He’s been exchanging photos and emails with them and his wife, Zenebach. Tuloro is amazed by how his three children have grown — from Nathanael who was a toddler when he last saw him, to Kalkidan, his eldest, now in her fourth year of studying IT at university. “She’s very brilliant.”

His 18-year-old daughter Bethelihem is in Grade 12.

Zeleke Eliso Tuloro greets his family at Richardson International Airport. From left: His son Nathanael, Tuloro and his daughters, Bethelihem and Kalkidan. (BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

Zeleke Eliso Tuloro greets his family at Richardson International Airport. From left: His son Nathanael, Tuloro and his daughters, Bethelihem and Kalkidan. (BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

He’s been preparing them for what to expect in Manitoba in December. Moving from equatorial Ethiopia to a Winnipeg winter is no big deal, said Tuloro who’s been here, done that.

“I told them ‘No problem. You can live here.'” Luckily, the temperature Thursday was 10 degrees Celsius above normal for their arrival. He picked them up at the airport with winter coats of his own. He will worry about getting parkas for them once they are home and recover from the 20-hour flight from Ethiopia.

Tuloro said he had help getting his family to Winnipeg through Hospitality House Refugee Ministry. They arrived the same day as several other newcomers, pushing Hospitality House’s arrivals to more than 600 in 2014 — an all-time record, said executive director Tom Denton.

Tuloro arrived in Winnipeg on Dec. 12, 2012. It was a long, lonely journey from Ethiopia.

A decade earlier, the teacher was living with his wife and kids in Nazareth, Ethiopia — a city 90 kilometres outside the capital Addis Ababa. He was active in an opposition party that won the government election but was overthrown by the military. Authorities arrested and interrogated journalists, party members, doctors and teachers. Some were killed, he said.

“Three or four times they came to our house and took me to the interrogation centre,” Tuloro recalled. After they showed up several times, his wife urged him to flee.

“My wife told me something will happen,” he said. He went into hiding. His wife was interrogated and wouldn’t tell the authorities her husband’s hiding place. She was ordered to quit teaching. Zeleke fled to Nairobi, Kenya, where he worked as a private driver. Extended family in Ethiopia helped take care of his family, he said.

After 10 years, Tuloro made it to Canada as a refugee. Within a year of arriving, he applied to bring his wife and kids through Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s “one-year window of opportunity.” They qualified because Tuloro immigrated as a class of refugee who had to leave his immediate family behind due to circumstances beyond his control and identified the family members left behind in his original application to come to Canada.

He works as a security guard and has a two-bedroom apartment furnished by the charity he volunteers with — Hands of Hope.

“He was one of the people we helped out by outfitting his family when they come and all the furniture they need,” said co-ordinator Charlie Norris.

On a security guard’s income, it would’ve been tough to buy beds and dressers for Tuloro’s three kids, said Norris who was happy to help one of their helpers. “He’s a very conscientious volunteer.”

Tuloro wants his kids to be conscientious and give back to their new community.

“If they go to school, are good people and of service to society, everything is good.”

He said he’s grateful to Canada’s immigration system and its people. His family’s reunification is dream come true. “Thank you.”

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2014 B3

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