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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

Memoirs of a Pakhtun Immigrant

by (author) Teresa Schapansky

TNT Book Publishing
Initial publish date
Jan 2017
Personal Memoirs, Historical
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2017
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 7 to 12


He signed up to sail on SS Rajputana as soon as he'd heard it was bound for Canada. By the time the ship reached port in Esquimalt, British Columbia in November of 1939, his decision had already been made.He had reached the land of freedom, and if he were to ever provide a better life for his wife and children, he couldn't possibly return to Bombay. With a heart full of hope, and only four dollars in his pocket, he slipped away from his crew.This is the story of Gafoor Khan, an illegal immigrant and a courageous man - he spent nearly ten years on Canadian soil before being granted legal status.Woven from his son's memories, this story was written to chronicle times and events, to ensure that how this family came to be in Canada would not become lost over time. Carefully chosen copies of photographs and historical documents are included.

About the author

Editorial Reviews

"A moving story of a Pakhtun immigrant to this wonderful country who remained steadfast to his objectives and through his hard work, dedication and sacrifice succeeded in providing a better future for his family.

It reflects the hard work of a person who left his home, in the remote mountains of northern Pakistan, in search of better opportunities and assimilated in an altogether different culture.

It’s a story of triumph over difficult circumstances, highlighting the unlimited possibilities for those who demonstrate discipline and perseverance to their cause. It will be a rewarding experience for all who read it." Mr. Tariq Azim Khan High Commissioner for Pakistan, Ottawa

"5 STARS. A gripping and heart-warming tale starting with Gafoor, a Pakistani immigrant who came to Canada to find a better life for his wife and sons. The story starts in 1903, the year of his birth in his quiet mountain village. At the age of 18, eager to find work, he leaves his village and finds work on cargo ships, returning to his village between jobs. He marries a girl in the village, Basnoor. They have three sons.

In an effort to seek a better life, he finds his way to Canada in 1939 and jumps ship. He would be separated from Basnoor and his sons for many years as he sought to gain Canadian citizenship. By 1948 he has exhausted his efforts to become a landed immigrant and is ordered to leave the country. Sir Robert Holland, an attorney who had taken an interest in this kind, hard-working man, continues to intervene. Gafoor works hard to earn the money to sponsor his family - his eldest son would arrive in Canada first, eventually followed by his wife and sons.

The story flips back and forth between Canada and Pakistan. The second son, Jamal's journey to Canada is fascinating, first plane ride, first hotel, etc. How unnerving it must have been for him. The rest of the family followed, twenty years after Gafoor set foot in Canada.

The author has provided historical snippets in the chapters - Gandhi, Jinnah, WWII, the UK, the recognition of Pakistan as a nation etc., making the history come alive as it relates to the story. Schapansky has done a brilliant job with this memoir, a tribute to Jamal and his family. The photos at the end of the book bring it to life.

I read this in one sitting; it was engrossing, interesting and educational. A must read for any student and lover of history and memoirs." Janice J. Richardson, author of The Making of a Funeral Director

"Inspirational and quite absorbing, it brought to mind my own family history and my own immigration experiences in 1975 when I moved to the U.S.

Gafoor's life story is one of struggle and hope, it shows the greatness of Canada and its people, where it seems so natural for individuals to embrace complete strangers and assist them in their pursuit of a better life. This is not only a story of a Pakhtun immigrant, but also the story of the great heart of the Canadian people.

The inner strength of Gafoor in pursuit of his goals is quite unique and rare in the human condition; it says something about the upbringing of people like him, where the inner strength of the person far outweighs the drawbacks of literacy, culture, or immigration status. There is within such people a soul that sparkles, which draws people to them and allows them to move forward in life with hope and success, not unlike the ships he worked on which moved through miles of oceans to reach their destinations. A truly good read." Raj Anand

"Highlighting the struggles of a family in search of a better life, this story revolves around the impoverished farming hamlet of Charuna, in the farthest highlands of Northern Pakistan, and the sawmill community of Youbou, on Vancouver Island, Canada, in the other corner of the world.

The hard working people living in both Charuna and Youbou are defined in direct contrast to the glitz and glamour described by the author, at the Metropole Hotel in Karachi, and the Empress Hotel in Victoria. The two entirely different social classes are portrayed, and give this story a distinct colour.

The author has chosen the common man as the subject of her research, while in sharp departure with the extant practice of blending in historical figures and celebrities.

The projection of Pakhtun customs, hospitality, geography, historical glimpses, and the goodness of people such as Sir Robert Holland and the Bunker family make this an interesting read. The author has succeeded in her attempt at building bridges between and linking the two countries of Canada and Pakistan." Muhammad Tariq Consul General of Pakistan Vancouver

"A very precise and chronological account that can be attributed to a dream of wanting future generations to know the struggles of life for the sole intent of that knowledge. Highly recommended." J.P Willson, author of Through the Mind’s Eye: A Journey of Self-Discovery

"I highly recommend this memoir, which is rich in life-affirming tales of the kindness of strangers, during a time of separation and uncertainty for one family. Each chapter cleverly commences with some important historical events, which only enriches and puts into context the ever-changing historical backdrop." Lucy Lang, author of Dislocation-a moving story of a turbulent childhood

"Jamal Khan and Teresa Schapansky came together to tell a very important story; one of courage, adventure and the wish to make a family’s life better. We must thank Jamal Khan for sharing his family’s story and Teresa for the joy with which she wrote." Elaine Fuhr, Freelance Reviewer

Other titles by Teresa Schapansky