Africans in Canada struggle to send money home amid soaring inflation

Africans in Canada struggle to send money home amid soaring inflation 1

Africans in Canada struggle to send money home amid soaring inflation 1

With the worsening economic conditions, more families in Africa are increasingly relying on remittances from relations living abroad to meet their needs.

Many rely on what their children or other relatives send them to buy food, clothes, foot medical bills and so many other needs. In short, private remittances have become the means of survival for many families.

However, an Afrotimes investigation has revealed that skyrocketing inflation is forcing Africans in Canada of all income levels to reconsider what they can afford to remit to families back in Africa.

A number of Canadian have shared stories of how that have been compelled to cut down on not just food choices and extracurriculars, but also previously routine remittances.

Kidist Demessie, who lives in Winnipeg, tries to send money to her mom and relatives in Ethiopia every month. She used to send around $300, but with her own living costs climbing, she’s had to scale it back to $200.

Some months, she’s unable to send any money, she said.

“I’ve been skipping and then … I don’t feel even good calling after that, because you feel, you know, you’re not doing your responsibility,” said Demessie.

The support worker says her wage has remained the same for seven years — a challenge as inflation drives costs higher. To meet her expenses, Demessie has taken a second job.

“I work six hours in the morning, eight hours in the evening,” she said. “I don’t party, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke … but then you find yourself struggling just to buy groceries and to pay [the] mortgage.”

Trying to cover living costs has been incredibly stressful, she said, and since taking on her second job, she’s been unable to spend quality time with her child.

“It’s shocking — what else should you do? Like, what else? You work two jobs and you’re still broke.”

Demessie says it’s hard to explain to relatives in Ethiopia how much she’s struggling to make ends meet.

“A lot of people look up to you because you are in a … developed country. So they really think you could help,” she said. “They think it’s a joke when we say life is so expensive.”

She says even though she’s struggling, she feels obliged to send money to her family in Ethiopia.

“Some of our community back home, they wait for the money just to survive.”

A sense of responsibility

George Okoye, a Nigerian community leader in Vancouver, says it’s also common for Nigerian newcomers in Canada to send money back home to their families.

“There is a strong feeling of loyalty for their family, making sure that they are also experiencing some of the finer things that they are enjoying here,” Okoye said. “The high inflation in Canada has forced some people to borrow money to send their relatives.”

“Regardless of all the different hardships we experience here, it’s nothing compared to what our folks back home sometimes are going through,” he said. “They feel that the least that they can do is to send something to them.”

Minimum wage earners need support

Ethiopian Society of Winnipeg founder Ali Saeed says he’s hearing stories like Demessie’s from many in his community.

Saeed used to send around $500 monthly to his family in Ethiopia and refugees in Kenya, Sudan and Somalia. But now, he only sends $120 per month, he said.


“All the families back home are dependent on the diaspora because of the economic financial situation. But nowadays, let alone to help your family, you cannot even help yourself from out here,” he said.

Saeed says the majority of the Ethiopian diaspora in Canada makes minimum wage — and he hopes the federal government will step in to provide financial support for them in times of high inflation.

“I feel bad,” he said. “I have never seen that kind of inflation and I have been here almost eight years. This is the worst one.”

Afrotimes Newspaper


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