Former Refugee Is Now A Respected Family Doctor

Jul 13, 2017 at 2:26 PM ET

When Sameena Merchant was 7 years old, her family was forced to leave Uganda. She grew up there in the 1960s, but in 1971, President Idi Amin deported 40,000 Asians, including Sameena’s family.

That same year, Merchant was one of 6,000 Ugandan Asian refugees welcomed into Canada. It was the first time the country accepted a large number of non-Europeans.

“We were happy when we got here,” Merchant said. “You left everything. But we had an opportunity to start a new life.”

Years later, Merchant received a medical degree, and met her future husband, who had also fled from Uganda. Today, Merchant is a sought-after family doctor, treating families for more than 20 years. To honor her years of service, Merchant has been nominated for Alberta Family Physician of the Year.

“I don’t really have a lot of regrets,” she said. “I think that little girl did OK.”