How Visual Artist Iwona Buziak-Mohamed Aims to Help Other New Canadians Thrive

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Careers in Focus article by Brian Trota

Ever since she was a young girl growing up in Communist Poland Iwona Buziak-Mohamed knew she wanted to be artist, yet it was this desire that helped her to develop into a strong individual. “I learned from a very early age, that as long as I used my creative skills I would be able to survive. It proved to be true too when I left Poland without knowing another language.”

By her late teens, Buziak-Mohamed continued to keenly develop her talent despite the tight social and political restrictions of her home country. Along with the fact that her father had to endure 4 years hard labour at a coal mine in order to replace compulsory army service that wasn’t fulfilled. Her mother followed in tow leaving Buziak-Mohamed to test her resolve and mettle in the harsh world.

However, art was a recurring theme in Buziak-Mohamed’s life. “At the age of two I became a visual artist painting greeting cards for my mother–who was my first employer. At ten, I became a DIY enthusiast and an interior decorator. Eventually I went to art school and received professional training.”

As she developed as an artist, Buziak-Mohamed lended her talent and skills to a myriad of mediums as a silk painter, graphic designer, puppeteer and as a sculptor.

By 19 Buziak-Mohamed found her way to Canada. “I immigrated to Canada as a young adult looking for a better life. Many young people left [Poland] in search for a better life elsewhere,” Buziak-Mohamed continues, “Coming to Canada wasn’t easy.A young woman alone in a new country without a plan, a place to live, and a language barrier. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen! And it did happen in so many ways.”

However, the young artist found solace in her art and persevered through the tough times. During her 3 decades living as a New Canadian in Canada Buziak-Mohamed developed her artistic millieu in many projects that focused on connecting with people through art by giving them a voice which includes developing visual communication tools for seniors with language barriers.

Recently Buziak-Mohamed embarked on one of her most important projects: a yet unfinished book called Happy New Canadian. The visual artist notes, “I am writing this book for a person who is missing out on a possibility of having a good life because of limited beliefs, self doubt and unable to open up to the change that they, themselves, chose by coming to this Country.” Buziak-Mohamed continues, “My goal with this book is to use my creative problem-solving skills to teach creative thinking and problem solving to others, so they can create this new life as a New Canadian with pride.”

The book has been a labour of love because Canada has given her many opportunities to express herself, unlike her life growing up. “People were poor and voiceless…The suppression of free speech had a big impact on my life. I never had the confidence to raise my voice or to voice my opinion.”

And now Buziak-Mohamed is getting her chance to help other New Canadians find their voice and to ultimately be heard. “Life has an end no matter where we are and that’s why we should be able to make the most of it while we are here. So we need to be open and learn new ways of life that we took upon ourselves.”

Careers in Focus is a special article published every Friday spotlighing a talented professional and highlighting their career.

Image courtesy of: Iwona Buziak-Mohamed

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