Deep and aged roots of families in genetic and historical context, our roots tell their own story of who we are and how we came to be as individuals and societies. Each one weaves the fabric of kinship across networks of life, across place and time.

In 1972, at the young age of 7, I traveled with my siblings and mother to her homeland, in hopes that we would reach our destination in time to see my grandfather before he passed. It was an opportunity to meet my grandparents and extended family. It was a quick trip, but nonetheless a memorable one for a child.   I learned more about my family and grew to love, understand and appreciate not only my heritage but the sacrifices my parents made.

Being a refugee or immigrant in a new country isn’t easy by any means for anyone. Learning the language, finding work that provides a roof over your head, putting food on the table for loved ones, learning the culture, to name a few are all challenges faced. What would you add?

It takes guts and courage to face challenges without fear. Adaptability and an open mind, perseverance, resourcefulness, independence, compromise, a desire to live life to its fullest.

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

– Mother Theresa

My second experience was in 1986 when my father’s mother was ill and we received notice that she wouldn’t survive much longer.   My father could not travel to his birthplace, he was a landed immigrant in Canada, at that time. If he had returned, he would not have been allowed to leave because the country was ruled by communism. I had just started working for the Government after graduation and wasn’t even there a year. I had requested time off on compassionate grounds to go be with my father’s mother and was denied. I quit and went anyway. I spent 5 ½ months with my parent’s siblings and family.

Upon returning from my trip I was fortunate enough to get my position back with the government. I spent an additional 4 years with them before leaving to pursue experience in a different area. Many companies, lots of different experiences, some great, some not so great. Nonetheless, worthwhile and thankful for every experience in this journey we call life.

“Many people are passionate, but because of their limiting beliefs about who they are and what they can do, they never take actions that could make their dream a reality”

– Anthony Robins

Fast forward to 2002 when my beautiful angel daughter was born into this world and 2008 she left this world. As you can imagine, this personal journey, was heart-wrenching but was also showered with love and beauty. Her story and our journey will be highlighted in my upcoming nonfiction novel.

I hope to have my first book published in 2017. One that would never have been possible if it wasn’t for the people here that inspired me to try. Every dollar made from this book will go back into the organizations that helped our family – The BC Center for Abilities, BC Children’s Hospital, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and towards international initiatives that promote the well-being and lives of children, families and their communities.

“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.”

– Henry van Dyke

I’m not rich monetarily and I wasn’t born into money. In fact, my father came from a very poor family. I was fortunate that at a young age I was taught about the value of hard work. It allowed me the opportunity to travel extensively both professionally and personally and spend quality time with family and people from different parts of the world.

“Sometimes it’s a form of love just to talk to somebody that you have nothing in common with and still be fascinated by their presence.”

―David Byrne

Shortly after we celebrated the start of the new year 2016, my father became ill and we thought we would lose him.   I came across a chest that my father kept in the garage. It was the chest that contained the items my mother and father needed as they journeyed by boat to start their life in Canada in 1960.

Little did I know at the time that the chest would be full of newspapers from the home country. Years upon years of stories and articles. If that’s not history I don’t know what is.

I also learned by going through pictures that my father was an active advocate for his homeland while living in Canada and this is where I believe advocacy began for me.

I hope each one of you takes the time to travel back to your roots. Ask yourself what you can do differently in your life from now on to experience more meaning, success and fulfillment. I wish you all the best in finding your way to a richer more meaningful life that inspires others to try.

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes



Suzana Matkovic
Suzana Matkovic
SUZANA has a PhD from the School of Hard Knocks. With the guidance of a loving family, she aspired to the best job of Life: Motherhood. People that know her journey will understand how this beautiful and tragic chapter forged her resilience and tenacity to bring her passions to life by being part of the change. Upon graduation in 84, she moved into an extremely successful 30-year career. Nonetheless, she walked away from it in 2014, in order to pursue something more personally meaningful. A School of Life that enabled her to meet people of different nationalities, cultures, races, languages and outlooks, is what she sought. She is an avid advocate and volunteer motivated to help others reach their full potential by raising awareness of numerous social issues affecting many and establishing a legacy for change. Suzana’s training and experience have provided her with a unique foundation from which to produce communication that is Significant, Relevant and Actionable. Her knowledge in sales/business development and marketing started in the early 90’s where she received numerous awards for innovation, customer satisfaction and quality management. She has worked in all business categories: Local Government, Manufacturing and Distribution, Logistics and Lumber Export. Some of the more notable products and services were sold into the Environmental Energy Sector and building products that represented Structural, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Architectural Engineering. In addition to Marketing initiatives for various NGOs and causes near and dear to her heart. All this was accomplished by a high school graduate with determination, vision and passion. She attributes her success to many wonderful mentors throughout her personal and professional life and the inner strength God blessed her with.

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    • Thank you Joel for your heartfelt comments. These things came from my lived life and experience. Decisions I made in order to understand my parents life and it had a strong impact on me. As such I believe it needed to be shared so more people can appreciate and understand the sacrifices refugees make. People don’t always chose to leave their countries, sometimes they are forced to.

  1. Suzana – The roads we travel in life and the people God puts in our life help us to become the person we are. Good times and heart-breaking tragedy all become a part of our being. What will make the difference is how we react. We can get lost in the pain and become motionless or we can pick ourselves up and try to turn our sadness into positive action. I am grateful you found a way to make a positive from such difficult circumstances. Thank you for sharing such a personal side of your life – that takes great courage.

      • I have always felt that the true measure of my life will not be expressed at my funeral – it will be the stories they tell about me every day after I have been laid to rest. If they talk about how I touched their lives, I will have lived a productive life. If they never mention me, I wasted my time here. God Bless you, too.

  2. Thank you Suzana
    This is a Wonderfully Powerful article!!
    Your life is an example of what someone can accomplish if they bring their experience to bear and produce results.
    I will enjoy reading your book, I await it’s release.

    Kindest regards
    Billy Kevin Inness.