Guelph entrepreneur Yasmin Alidina cherishes her Canadian citizenship because in November of 1972 she and her family were given a choice between leaving Uganda, her country of birth, or being killed.
“In order to leave the country you had to become stateless,” said Alidina. “You had to give up your citizenship. That is the only way you could leave.”
A year earlier military dictator, Idi Amin Dada had seized power in Uganda and began a campaign of ethnic cleansing. The campaign targeted approximately 80,000 Asians, mostly of Indian origin as well as Europeans, especially those of British decent.
“We fled Uganda on Nov. 9, 1972,” Alidina said. “That was the last day when all the Asians had to leave.”
Alidina, her mother, four brothers and three sisters were among the more than 6,000 Ugandan refugees that settled in Canada. After 44 years, memories of the experience still make her emotional.