Roberto Alberto came to Canada with his family in 1984.

He was 13-years-old and his family had left because of the civil war in El Salvador.

“It was really dangerous for a kid my age. El Salvador has this weird strange rule that if soldiers picked you up at 8 o’clock at night and nobody claimed you within a certain amount of hours or days, you could be immediately enlisted in the army,” Alberto said.

His mother was a teacher and his father was a graphic designer in El Salvador, but they had to leave their professions behind.

“You know what my dad’s done all his life here? Janitor. His English is pretty broken. So he comes from having this sort of very high rank position in companies in El Salvador, and then here, [he] cleans toilets for a living,” he said.

Since arriving in Canada, Alberto has also encountered racism, something he still experiences to this day, albeit with more subtlety than in the past.

But overall, he says Canadians have been accepting.

Over the years, he became a lawyer, a coach, a husband and a father.

After a lifetime of hard work, Alberto has a message for people who aren’t so welcoming of immigrants: “The majority of us, whether it is first generation or second generation, we work. We try to contribute. We want to have a self identity because a lot of times, we leave that in our country. So, we need to reclaim our value. And what [better] way to do it [than] by demonstrating to people that we can do something?”

Calvin To