Monica Gurdjian was born in Bucharest, Romania, where her earliest memories were of a brutal and oppressive communist regime. Her multicultural and multi-faith family - her mother, was an Austrian operetta singer of Jewish descent and her father, a Roman Orthodox Armenian surgeon - fled to Vienna in 1960, hoping for a better life. Regrettably, the family’s first year of “freedom” was informed by prejudice and lack of employment opportunities and they eventually made their way to Iran, where they found acceptance and a true home for 13 years until they immigrated to Canada.
Monica saw herself as a descendant of talented and brave individuals - both her grandfathers had risked their lives to shield Jewish families from the Nazis. Neither she nor her family were defined by cultural or religious markers. They just happened to be Jewish, Christians, Armenians, Romanians and Austrians. As Monica navigated life’s peaks and valleys, flavoured by a kaleidoscope of cultures and religions, she learned to embrace her label-less identity.