What is home when you're part of a diaspora?
Artist and mother Rania al-Harthi reflects on her sense of belonging when home is away from a homeland.
Rania al-Harthi has lived in Regina for a decade.
But does that make it her home?
For al-Harthi, home is a construct, determined not only by physical location but by history, memories, and connections to the community and the land.
Rania al-Harthi is part of a diaspora — a group of people who have moved away or been forced from their established or ancestral homeland.
She was born in Zarqa, Jordan, to a father of Palestinian origins. He left the West Bank in 1967, and was forced to move to a refugee camp in Jordan.
Her mother was Russian, a place al-Harthi's family visited every summer. She remembers travelling to the Dead Sea, and knowing they were almost there when she could lick her hand to taste the salt in the humid air.
The question, "where is home?" has always been tough for her to answer. She says her sense of loss — of land, friends and family — came with a need to belong.
Al-Harthi came to Canada in 2010 to go to school. She works in settlement service helping newcomers to Saskatchewan.
She is also an independent artist working in theatre, film and visual arts on Treaty Four Territory. She says she feels a connection between the fertile ground in her motherland and the land here that is feeding the world.
These days, al-Harthi's idea of home is wherever her daughter Sophia is. Sophia also sees "home" as where her mother is, whether in Regina or on a visit to one of the places connected to their family, such as Jordan and Russia.
Together the pair is forging a future, but also staying connected with their culture through food, music, dance and art — including Palestinian embroidery and Arabic calligraphy.
Sophia loves to practice her words in Arabic. They also sing a Russian lullaby together every night before falling asleep in the home they've created here.
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