Kawthar, Moroccan

Kawthar, Moroccan
Warm, talkative and always smiling, Kawthar literally beams with pride as she shows us a picture of her two sons. They are the reason she and her husband crossed the ocean to set up a home here

Warm, talkative and always smiling, Kawthar literally beams with pride as she shows us a picture of her two sons, Mohammed and Mehdi. They are the reason she and her husband crossed the ocean to set up a home here, even if Mehdi wasn’t yet born at the time. She arrived in Sherbrooke, where her husband would complete an MBA in August 2001. Goodbye sunny climes of Morocco; welcome to Quebec!

Kawthar studied law in Morocco, but in order to practice here, she would have had to start her schooling all over again, since the law differs greatly from one country to the next. So she rolled up her sleeves, went back to school and obtained a diploma of collegial studies in Early Childhood Education. Even though in her current job at the Maison de la famille des Maskoutains she has more contact with adults, Kawthar is proud to have earned a diploma here. As a settlement worker for new immigrants in the Saint-Hyacinthe area, she can use her own experience to help them.

During her first years here, Kawthar discovered quality early childhood centres (CPEs), Halloween, winter and, of course, snow. At that time, Mohammed attended a family daycare, and his educator played such an important role for Kawthar that the 2 women developed a lasting friendship and are still in contact today.

After living in the Eastern Townships for a few years, the family settled in Saint-Hyacinthe, where little Mehdi was born in October 2004. For him, his mother tongue was harder to master, and he dove head first into Quebec culture. Kawthar is overjoyed… most of the time. The first time Mehdi, then 4, came home from daycare and refused to obey his mother because “he had the right,” Kawthar almost fell over backwards. In her family, a child shows his respect to his parent by never raising his voice, never slamming his door and never arguing.

The role of Moroccan parents is to provide everything for their child: care, security, love, food, protection, resources. After all, don’t parents know better than their children what’s best for them? “But it was here in Quebec that we learned that we mustn’t hit children and that there are other ways to raise them. I’m really happy to have learned that, it’s so much better for the children. But children here have far too much freedom! Don’t you think?” It’s a fair bet to say she knows a few little home-grown devils who rule the roost at home with their parents…

In Kawthar’s culture, children must obey and respect their parents. One of the signs of respect is to kiss their parent’s hands when they say hello. One day, Kawthar noticed that her son was hesitating to kiss her hands in front of his friends. “I won’t force you,” she told him. “But if you believe in the value of this gesture, you must do it in the open!” It’s not always easy to find the right balance between the 2 cultures. But you know what? Like every other mom, she often hears: “How come they can do that and we can’t?” Along with the very popular: “My friend’s parents never do that!” It just goes to show…

Kawthar wants to pass on her language and religion to her sons, even while she hopes they integrate fully into the Quebec of the 21st century. She still refuses to have Mehdi call his teacher by her first name, but greatly appreciates living in a tolerant country where her family lacks for nothing. Will she have other children? “I would really like to have a girl. Insha’Allah!” she says smiling.