Jamila, what is your background? I was a high school teacher and university professor in Libya but now I work as a student advisor.
Kasem and Nofel, you are both students but what else do you like to do?
Kasem: I play soccer and I like to paint. Nofel: Actually, I just graduated from high school—it meant so much to me to graduate in Canada. I also write poetry and short stories and have started my first novel! I start at UVic in the fall.
After a serious personal health crisis as well as experiencing political upheaval in Libya, how did you feel when you finally arrived in Canada to stay? Jamila: I felt safe for the first time in a long time.
Nofel, I understand you went to a private Christian school for awhile when you were first in Canada. As a practicing Muslim, what was that like? Nofel: It was fun! I really enjoyed it. My Libyan friends were shocked when I told them though. Jamila: We are Muslim but I want my sons to learn about everything and to have an open mind.
Kasem, you and your mom are leaving for Libya for a holiday tomorrow! What is your last memory of Libya? One of my friends asked me to bring him some things back from Canada, like cool sunglasses and stuff. But I haven’t gotten him anything!
Jamila, you first came to Canada for cancer treatment in 2011 Can you share a bit about that experience? At the time, I was very unhappy, understandably, and I hated being here. But now I tell people how the volunteers helped me and my family, taking me to appointments and taking and picking Kasem up from school. And the nurses were so so kind. I will never forget the nurses. Nofel: I have to confess I hated it here. But it all changed when I had my first drama class at school and then I never wanted to go back to Libya. We might not have planned to come here but we now feel being here was our destiny.
What is your favorite thing to do in Victoria? Nofel: Going downtown at night to people watch and look at the lights. Kasem: Playing soccer on the UVic field! Jamila: Walking around and feeling free to be myself without social pressure or judgment.
MEET THE ELMIHOB-SHELEEG FAMILY
Arriving with her three sons from Libya in July, 2013, high school teacher and cancer survivor, Jamila Elmihob gets a new start in Canada. Fiona Bramble catches up with the busy family at Tim Hortons on a warm July evening.
hometown Tripoli, Libya mother tongue Arabic
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