My Temporary Home / Ma maison provisoire by Rasha Samour

A young woman interviews her mom to understand her mothers childhood in Palestine, the difficult decisions she made as a young adult, and how she came to live in Montreal.

Une jeune femme interroge sa mère pour comprendre son enfance en Palestine, les décisions prises dans sa jeunesse et les raisons qui l’ont poussée à venir vivre à Montréal.


VO - My name is Rasha Samour. I have decided to interview my mom, originally Palestinian. I remember being young and her telling me stories, the kind of stories that were hard to believe. Born and raised in Montreal, I realize that I am truly blessed to have the security that my mother lacked as a child and the opportunity that my mother never had. So mom, introduce yourself.
My name is Ralta Kobani – I was born in Jerusalem, Palestine, June 2, 1847. I have 3 brothers, 3 sisters. I am the second.
Q - How old were you when you moved to Jordan. One year.

Q - Was there a lot of Palestinians living in Jordan?
The population is more than the Jordans.

VO - So I didn’t know much about the war in Jordan called black September that my mom always spoke to me about.

A few thing happened before 1970 between the PLO and the Jordanian government and then one night, September 16th, we woke up to hear some bombs it was the beginning of Black September. September of 1970 is known as Black September. It was a month when Hasmet King Hassed of Jordan Moved to quash the militancy of ordinary Palestinian organizations and restore the monarchy’s rule over the country. The violence resulted in deaths of thousands of people, the vast majority Palestinian. Armed conflict lasted until July 1971, with the expulsion of the PLO and thousands of Palestinia fighers in Lebanon. We used to live 2nd floor – we moved to the first floor and it was five families living in one apartment and it was dangerous to live upstairs on the 2nd or 3rd floor. I remember when my brother – he used to go to get water for us – because we are five families with the kids of course and we don’t have water, and we don’t have food to eat. Doesn’t matter the food we eat only bread but we can live without it. My brother he used to go far under the bombing to find water to us and to bring it to us. How did you meet my father? During the water in 1970 when we went downstairs to the first floor – it was his parents house and we fall in love.

Q - Did you both agree to come to Montreal together.

Yes – because he was studying in Montreal that is why I came to Canada. So you came to follow him and to be with him. Exactly – I was happy and said. Happy because I came to Canada to meet my husband and to start a new life and sad because I am going to leave my country, my family, my parents, my brothers and sisters, for the first time.

Q What did you feel? That you had to leave your whole family behind?

In my mind I came for 2, 3 or maximum five years when my husband finished his studies I have to go back to Jordan – I never knew I am going to stay in Canada for that long.

Q - And how long have you been in Canada now?

Thirty-five years in July, since 1975.

VO = Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if my parents had not moved to Montreal. I was only fifteen the first time I met met my family. My cousings, uncles, aunts, grandparents, because most of them lived in Jordan. I sometimes wish we had lived in Jordan because I feel that even if life is better here, I too had to sacrifice for my parents decision. I love my family and wish I had been closer to them than I am now. When I came to the airport, it was my husband waiting for me with his boss and his wife and then my husband he said that is my wife but this boss he said no way are you sure? I don’t think so. No way she can dress like that. I was wearing a suit. It was very nice and chic but they don’t think we are dressed like that. I was a blond, they expected I was dark color.

Q - Where did you live when you first arrived? In Lachine, on 32nd ave.

Q - What kind of Palestinian community existed here in Montreal at the time?

We had a small Palestinian community at that time. We are not too many but most of them were here. They came from Palestine, 1948, not from West Bank or from Jordan. We used to make food and we would rent a hall. We make a small party. We enjoyed sitting together and making songs.

VO - My mom always says you are lucky you had the chance to grow up here. Everything is provided. You can easily work or study and not have to worry about anything. She also tells me the only reason she stayed in Montreal is for our sake.

Q - What kind of future did you have planned for your children that made Montreal a better place to live as opposed to Jordon where you grew up.

I wanted them to study. There they can but you have to have a lot of money – its expensive.

Q - Do you think you made a good decision in moving here from Jordan?

Of course. If you could change the decision you made, If I were to change I would like my family to be here too. Then its ok for me.