My name is Nujin*, and this is my story. Growing up in Ontario, Canada, I would say it was always a true struggle to understand and learn what it means to be a Kurd. From a young age my parents’ complete devotion to the Kurdish culture allowed me to understand the Kurdish culture, language, and many traditions. I have always been proud of who I am, despite what others may say, but this is one of the many reasons I fight so hard to be known as a Kurd. For me, I believe that “to be a Kurd” you must be strong willed, understanding, and most importantly- accepting of all.
As a 19 year old Kurdish girl, I try my hardest to make sure those around me understand the who, what, where, when, and why about the Kurds, as there is so little media coverage. My first experience with my Kurdish identity was when I was almost six years old. My parents exposed me to all that encompasses the Kurdish culture—including Saddam Hussein and the devastating Halabja genocide (not even recognized as a genocide by the United Nations). At that young age, I knew the difference between right and wrong, and the pure discrimination towards the Kurds, my people.
Although there is a Kurdish population here in Canada, it is nothing like back home. Here in Canada I have no cousins, aunts, uncles—only my parents and two younger siblings—so community is definitely key to being a Kurd here in Canada. It’s hard to tell your classmates about Kurdistan when even the teacher doesn’t know where or what Kurdistan is. I found a deep connection with other Kurdish people here in Canada—as many others were going through the same thing. To this day, the Kurdish community is still very important here in Canada, and in other countries, as Kurds come together for support and change—despite the lack in resources and international support.
Growing up as a Kurd, I have always been proud of where I come from and who I am. My growing passion to fight for my people grows day by day, as I try my hardest to fight for a world in which the Kurdish people live in peace, rather than in pure terror. Never giving up and fighting for what you believe in is a true aspect of what it means to be a Kurd. Loving who you are and where you come from does not necessarily mean you are a “nationalist,” I just happen to love who I am, is that so wrong?
My parents are the only reason I am who I am today. They taught me what it means to be a Kurd, and why I should hold my head up high. My parents are an inspiration to me as they both fled from Kurdistan to Canada to start a better life for my siblings and me. New life, the meaning of my name “Nujin”, as my parents first child born and raised in Canada, I will never understand what it felt like to live through war—to have your very life threatened because of your ethnicity—but I will always understand the feeling of peace and gratitude, and how everyone should deserve it.
Overall, these are the very few points that outline what it means to be a Kurd for me. I believe that in order to save Kurdistan and provide peace, people all around the world should understand the importance and truth behind being a Kurd. I believe these types of organizations, like the Kurdish Project, are our only hopes of creating a structure in which the kids of the future understand and learn who the Kurds are.
*Last name removed to protect identity