Happy Canada Day 2011: Dreams Do Come True

Canada is the greatest country in the world. Of course, statistically we know that’s true. The United Nation’s Human Development Index, based on life expectancy, education, standards of living, and child welfare, has told us so for years.

But Canada’s greatness is not just about the “good life”. Canada is the land of opportunity, where milk and honey flows, not just for the wealthy, but for anyone who dreams a dream and works hard.

There is no better example of this than my legal assistant Justine Karungyi. Justine arrived in British Columbia from Uganda in 2006. She was 24 years old. She began her life in Africa while civil war raged and her family, including four siblings, became fractured. Her father was a local Chairman of the Uganda People’s Congress, who had governed Uganda for many years. He fled his home in Jinja, moving to his ancestral home in Mbarara with Justine and her sister.

The genocide of war kept Justine, her father and her sister in exile for over three years. Justine’s mother believed her husband and two girls were dead. After all, thousands of children were turned into soldiers and others were abducted, raped and murdered. Justine’s mother had moved on with her life with a new partner and more children. Losing her mother was as profound as the devastation of war.

As was the norm in Uganda, Justine’s father took his five children and settled in Masaka. Custody was not an issue. Children belonged with their fathers. No questions asked. In Masaka Justine attended primary school and later, secondary school, at a private Catholic girl’s boarding school. Her father paid the fees, but nothing else. Justine’s step-mother resented Justine and her siblings. They cost too much money and they interfered in her relationship with their father.

The school fed Justine a corn-flour and hot water paste, called “posho”, and beans twice a day. She and her sister ended up on the streets begging for money to buy basics, including sugar, toilet paper and hygiene products.

Once she finished high school she enrolled in a two-year program to obtain an advanced certificate of education.

Justine’s Literature teacher talked about corruption, about standing up for people who could not speak for themselves, and about the law and what lawyers could do for their country and its citizens. At fifteen years-old Justine decided she would become a lawyer. But a legal education in Uganda was well beyond her reach.

She began working for KPMG as an administrative assistant and enrolled in Makara University Business School, attaining a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management. But she never abandoned her dream.

One of Justine’s brothers had married a Canadian citizen and was now raising a family in British Columbia. He invited Justine to come to Canada to assist with the care of his two children under a new immigration program for live-in caregivers. Justine was now in Canada and when she completed her caregiving stint, began working in my law office.

She told me her dream of becoming a lawyer. I told her she could do anything she wanted in Canada if she was prepared to work for it. She was.

Justine will start law school in two months at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. She still has no money, but Canada’s student loan program will see her through, just like it did for me 25 years ago. She is well on her way to living her dream. She is living proof that Canada is the greatest country in the world.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang


20 thoughts on “Happy Canada Day 2011: Dreams Do Come True

  1. Yes, Canada is the greatest country in the world, with people like you who are so selfless, so giving and encouraging. I would never have made it this far if it weren’t for you. You have been a very reliable support system and a great role model. If I could ever be half the lawyer you are, then my dream will have been worth my while. Thank you Georgialee. Happy Canada day.

  2. At the end of a long day what a wonderful story to read. You can’t not be happy about the opportunity for this young woman. God’s speed I say.

  3. Nice, and very touching! It’s amazing how God can direct your life, from a nobody to a really somebody….. thx to Georgialee, and Justine, thx for believing in yourself and not giving up! I love you so much………

  4. Very encouraging…any idea where to send any grant proceeds to help with Justine’s tuition? Am sure she will be a blessing to others at some point in the future! I would like to help…

  5. Donny What a thoughtful and generous gesture. If you send your dontation to Georgialee Lang in trust, I will ensure it is put towards her tuition and books.

  6. As you know Georgialee, I have only recently come to know Justine… I shared with you this morning, before I even had a chance to read this blog, that one of Justine’s most attractive traits is her humbleness. She is quite simply, a lovely and very kind individual – remarkable in some ways given much of her background. My feeling is that Justine has gifts to bring to the legal industry….

  7. I know Justine personally having worked with her at Georgialee’s law firm. She is a wonderful individual and there is not enough room for me to set out all of her good qualities. Suffice it to say, I am truly lucky to have known and worked with Justine. I wish Justine all the very best with her future endeavours and hope she will call on me should she ever require assistance. God bless you Justine and Georgialee and Happy Canada Day.

  8. Hi Georgialee: Thanks for the good news story! We all need to remind ourselves more often, of stories of relentless diligence and tenacity, in striving to make the best of what God has given. Have you fully shared your own story? Cheers Paul Forseth

  9. Hi, I’ve been a lurker around your blog for a few months. I love this article and your entire site! Looking forward to reading more!

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  11. GREAT REVIEW! I totally agree with all your thoughts in your article. Thank you, your post is very valuable as always. Keep up the good work! You’ve got +1 more reader of your super blog:)

  12. Georgialee – having heard your own testimony – I know your heart is truly open to other people who have dreams and who need encouragement to pursue them! Justine is a wonderful example of you taking time with someone, reaching out and encouraging them to become the best they can be and to reach for their dreams! Thank you for doing just that for this young lady Justine! Justine… remember that you have come SO far in the time you have been here – and you have the strength and determination to succeed! God bless to you as your pursue becoming a lawyer!


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