One of B.C.’s newest citizens reflects on the value of immigration

“People who come by choice to another country will do everything to contribute to that country.”

Nienke Klaver, 71, has lived on four continents and travelled through more than 40 countries.

So when she became one of Canada’s newest citizens, you can be sure that was an informed choice.

“I feel like every place in the whole world should be like a little United Nations, eventually,” she said. “I like the idea that Canada is a mosaic. Everyone brings their own culture and I hope they keep their culture and their food and their traditions. I think everyone contributes to Canada in that way.”

The swearing-in ceremony was held in a Kelowna hotel last Friday. Klaver was one of 88 people from 14 countries who promised to “be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

She described the experience as “interesting…I was sitting beside a gentleman from India and on the other side there was a man from the Philippines. Before I talked to someone from Britain and someone from Vietnam. I would have loved to go to every person and ask where they were from and why they moved here.”

Klaver was 30 when she left Holland, for Canadian shores.

A violinist for the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, she moved to Victoria to be with her partner, and earn her masters degree in violin performance.

Even though it was her decision, and she would return to visit, the transition was painful.

“I was sitting at the airport and just bawling my eyes out. I felt so terrible for my parents, because that was two kids that moved away. It was very difficult, extremely difficult. I still get kind of teary-eyed when I think about it.”

Klaver reflected on that memory as a room full of people committed to Canada.

“That’s what made me emotional, to think about that. It is traumatic to leave your own country. It was traumatic for me. Even though it was my own choice, it was difficult. But what if that is not your choice and you have to flee your own country?

“For me it was different because the Netherlands and Canada are similar in many aspects, like freedom of speech and the rights that you have. But I imagine that some of the people came from countries where there is not that freedom. It just made me wonder how they would feel taking that oath to become a Canadian – how it made them feel inside.”

Being raised on stories of how her parents and older siblings survived the Second World War gave Klaver an indelible appreciation for justice.

Her father would travel hundreds of kilometers on foot to trade valuables for food, and on one occasion he hid under the kitchen floor when soldiers came to round up able-bodied men to work in German factories.

“Growing up with that, and then hearing of the Canadians liberating the Netherlands…hearing my mother talking about it, it always brings tears to my eyes. We were freed by another country, and by people who didn’t know us and put their lives on the weigh-scale.”

Klaver and her husband Ed Staples have travelled extensively. They lived for four years in Chile and 10 years in Japan, teaching at international schools, while they traipsed around the rest of the globe in their spare time.

When it was time to retire from their respective careers, they decided to settle in the Okanagan and even spent their first two summers here building a home near Coalmont, while living very Canadian-style in a small log cabin on the Tulameen River.

The couple has made its impact on the community and the province.

Four years ago Klaver convinced Princeton council to paint one of the first rainbow crosswalks in rural BC.

In 2012 she was behind a petition to keep the emergency room open 24-hours at Princeton General Hospital. That effort was eventually successful and led to the formation of the Support Our Health Care Society. That group has affected significant improvements in local health services.

Both Klaver and Staples now work in leadership roles with the B.C. Rural Health Network and the B.C. Health Coalition.

An accomplished photographer, Klaver said one of her favorite things about Canada is its natural beauty, and the opportunities that offers for outdoor activities like camping and hiking.

“We have so much space here,” she said. “And for sure I believe we do need immigrants. Our population is aging and often immigrants contribute so much to our country. They are hard working people. When people say immigrants are a drain on the system, I don’t believe that is the case. Research shows that is not the case.

“People who come by choice to another country will do everything they can to contribute to that country.”

To report a typo, email:
publisher@similkameenspotlight.com
.



andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Soul Shakers kick off free outdoor concerts in Oak Bay

Music fills the air at Willows Beach Park for series of concerts this summer

Saanich farm hosts birthday party as wetland turns 10

The Urban Biodiversity Enhancement and Restoration Project invites community to 10th birthday for wetland

Last remaining Victoria Legion faces $100,000 property tax bill

The Trafalgar/ Pro Patria Branch can’t afford to operate with such high taxes

Sunset Cinema brings free family film under the stars in Colwood

Sunset Cinema hosts events on the Island from July 23 to 27

Downtown Victoria sees 10-fold increase in condo units since 2016

A report by the Downtown Victoria Business Association details ongoing construction trends

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth, sets Canadian space record

Native of Saint-Lambert, Que., set a record for longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Pedestrian struck by vehicle in Stz’uminus dies from injuries

A male pedestrian was struck in the early morning of June 25

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from Vancouver furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Poll: Rising gas prices force B.C. residents rethink summer road trips

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

PHOTO: Moose cow and calf relax in Williams Lake flower garden

The homeowners got a surprise when they checked their most recent surveillance footage

Two in hospital after plane crashes in Okanagan Lake

RCMP say wheels left down caused landing plane to overturn on lake

Most Read