Sundays 8pm to 11pm on Radio 2
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Nahlah Ayed, a correspondent for CBC's The National and the author of a new book called 'A Thousand Farewells', grew up in a small house on Archibald Street in Winnipeg with her parents, brothers and sister. She saw herself as a Canadian girl - she worked hard at school, rode her bike, played with her friends. And like a lot of Canadians, Nahlah's parents had a hyphenated identity - in their case, Palestinian-Canadian. They grew up as refugees, finally planting roots in Canada to raise the family.
Nahlah and her siblings grew up learning the Arabic alphabet in the kitchen, speaking English to each other, and attending a French school. The music of Lebanon's Fairuz blended with BJ Thomas' 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head'. But Nahlah's parents were worried, concerned the kids wouldn't learn about their heritage. So in 1976, when Nahlah was only six years old, they packed up and moved to Jordan to the al-Wihdat Palestinian refugee camp. The move was not a happy one - not for the kids and not for the parents. It was a homecoming for Nahlah's parents fraught with tension and bad memories. As a child, Nahlah remembers mud, grinding poverty, and sadness.
It would be seven years before she returned home to The 'Peg, changed forever by her experience in Jordan. And it left her uneasy with her connection to the Middle East. Fast forward to September 11, 2001 and Nahlah, now a journalist, returns to the Middle East - a place she must explain to Canadians, a place she must explain to herself. We'll ask Nahlah about that relationship, how she navigated telling that story, and whether being there helped her understand what pulled her parents back.