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St.Thomas, ON






Originally from Liberia as an architect, Francis landed in Canada in 2020 as a refugee.

Back home I ran an architectural firm that was ranked one of the best in Liberia. But my credentials are not recognized here and I cannot do the things that I’m passionate about. I always feel broken by this.


An Architect's View

Back in Liberia, I worked as an architect. This is a picture of City Hall that I took near my house. I am fascinated by the design of the buildings in St. Thomas.

When I first moved to St. Thomas, I was riding my bike and this was the first time coming to this place. I first saw the tower from afar and thought, ‘what’s that.’ I walked closer to see the building and it felt amazing as we don’t have such tall church buildings in Africa.

To see a community like this. To see it so clean. As an architect in Liberia, I would do drawings just like this. I would draw like this. In Liberia, we do not have such buildings. It was so beautiful to drive, and to see the orientation of the buildings. To be on the road, and to see each home have a garage, a backyard. Everything looked so perfect.

When I came to St. Thomas in February 2020, I always liked to jog around the streets. As an architect, I wanted to capture this moment when I saw the construction site. In Liberia, I would only see construction happening for major sites. It was good to see the excavation sites happening in St. Thomas

I went to a construction site and asked them about the buildings. I told them I was an architect and I felt so amazed to see the construction. It was so unique to see things through a technical way. Back home I ran an architectural firm that was ranked one of the best in Liberia. But my credentials are not recognized here and I cannot do the things that I’m passionate about. I always feel broken by this.

Neighbourhood & Home

This is the view of my backyard. It is great to see the flourishing area.

During Christmas 2020, we were having a party and saw all the cars in the snow.

My second son wasn’t born yet when I took this picture. It was our first Thanksgiving ever. We made a turkey as a family of three. We learned to make the stuffing of turkey. We went on YouTube to learn how to make a turkey. Normally, we would cook chicken, but now we tried turkey.

This was a great moment to capture. I wanted to make Christmas cards at home when I first came. I wanted to use this picture to say Merry Christmas to everyone. To see the trees and the snow falling. It felt like I was in a book.

In September 2020, I saw all the leaves changing colors. That was so unique. I thought only in pictures and books that I could see those things. This tree has no leaves right now but imagine It will grow back and flourish more than ever before, just like the other trees that I captured on a hot sunny day. The trees and grass are growing so perfectly and flourishing better now.

Sense of Community

Car show: 

Where I’m from, I have not seen old cars such as these. I love to see old things. This car show showcased over 200 vintage cars from 1935-1979. It is a moment of WOW! During this event, many residents came together and I was able to have conversations with locals. I felt that everyone was open minded and was able to connect through the cars. I’ve also shared pictures with friends back home.

This was the view outside of the St. Thomas-Elgin Hospital on the day that my younger son was born. This was the moment when I came to realize that in Canada, women give birth and walk outside free. In Liberia, my first son was born on the floor due to the lack of medical beds in the hospital and my wife was sent back home three times before she gave birth. No way in Canada you would see such a thing. It was amazing that she gave birth in a hospital where everything was so good to be true.

The carnival brought together families and the community. I brought my son and family here. I remember how people complimented my wife’s red dress she wore on that day. It was a great moment. It was my first time to ride these rides, and I felt the adrenaline. It’s amazing to have families coming out after COVID and I was able to interact with different people. Most of the Black families took their kids there and I saw friends too. I felt happy to see and interact with others in the community.

Places to go

This is a park about a 10 minute walk away. People told me about this park and eventually I went there. Growing up in Liberia, I would only see this in a book. To see the snow and everything physically, I felt that I was inside a book.

Back home, I would have access to the beaches such as the one here in Port Stanley.

I started driving in November 2020. It felt amazing to drive on the snow, on the white road. I wanted to capture this moment so I can look back to when I was a refugee and to where I am today. To see the white road. The road was slippery, but as I drove, the views kept coming.

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