Like many South Africans, Avis and Robbie are descendants of Latvian and Lithuanian immigrants to South Africa. Each had two siblings, attended public school, and went on to attend Wits University. Avis became an occupational therapist and Robbie a chartered accountant. They have three daughters.
Avis and Robbie began thinking about leaving South Africa as early as 1969, but a combination of family and financial considerations kept them there until 1996, the year they immigrated to Canada.
Robbie ran a successful accounting practice in South Africa for thirty years. On arriving in Canada, he decided he wanted a career change and eventually transitioned into the role of chief financial officer of a Toronto company. A competitive squash player in South Africa, he continued winning titles at the provincial and national levels in Canada. It was largely through squash that he integrated into Canadian society.
Avis worked in a variety of hospitals and schools, taught at Wits, and ran a successful practice in Johannesburg. She re-qualified to register in Canada and after occupying different positions now works in her own practice.
They are proud grandparents of nine grandchildren. They both agree that through their professional and personal dedication, they have given back to their adopted country.
Osher, Robbie, 1939-
Johannesburg (South Africa)
00:14 Avis was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Avis provides a brief family history. Her mother, Rae Mer, was born in Zamel, Lithuania. Her father, Sollie Burde, was born in Grodno, Belarus. She discusses the circumstances of various relatives.
01:45 Avis explains why her father came to South Africa in 1932.
02:55 Avis hypothesizes how her parents met and married in Johannesburg. Avis had one sister, Hessie, and one brother, David.
04:25 Avis describes her experience growing up.
06:38 Avis explains that she went to work in the family factory when she finished school. She discusses her mother's role in the business.
07:44 Avis discusses her family's involvement with the Jewish community and their practice of Judaism.
10:50 Avis describes the path she took to become an occupational therapist. She describes her first work placement.
00:00 Robbie was named Robert Percy Osher at birth. Robbie was born in Johannesburg in 1939.
01:02 Robbie discusses his childhood. He discusses his social life, interests, and education. Robbie graduated from accounting and qualified as a certified public accountant (CPA) in Israel. He received a degree in accounting in the United Kingdom and a certified management accountant (CMA) degree.
04:01 Robbie discusses the reasons for considering and then rejecting the idea of moving to Israel in 1969. Robbie discusses his Jewish education and his family's practice of Judaism.
05:34 Robbie provides a brief family history. His mother was born in 1912 in Latvia. She came to South Africa at age eight with her family. His father was born in 1911 in ?Killem, Lithuania. His father was a tailor.
07:40 Robbie explains that his family had Black servants. He discusses segregation.
Robbie discusses his reasons for deciding to leave South Africa in 1969. He discusses multiple applications for emigration: Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Israel. Their daughter, Dorit, immigrated to Canada in 1986. Robbie explains how he and Avis immigrated to Canada in 1990 after settling their business affairs.
00:17 Avis discusses the dilemmas she struggled with when she and Robbie considered leaving South Africa.
01:35 Avis describes the challenges her family encountered when they attempted a move to the United States in 1976.
03:50 Avis describes her response when her mother suffered a heart attack when Avis was aged eight. She explains how she was not inclined to leave her mother.
05:17 Avis discusses expectations for her daughters.
05:49 Robbie discusses the reasons for remaining in South Africa.
08:00 Robbie discusses his passion for and achievement in squash, including six medals at the Maccabiah Games in 1985, 1989, and 1993.
10:50 Robbie explains how playing competitive squash in Canada was a way of integrating into Canadian society. Robbie discusses his accomplishments in squash since he arrived in Canada.
12:03 Robbie discusses his work since he arrived in Canada.
12:50 Avis explains how they were able to get some money out of South Africa despite state financial restrictions.
15:00 Avis shares some stories from her experience working with Black African patients and staff. She discusses hierarchies and inequities in care and equipment.
18:33 Avis and Robbie provide examples to show racism and the separation of white, Black, and coloured individuals in South Africa.
21:20 Robbie relates an example from his own experience to highlight the practice of racism and injustice in South Africa.
00:00 Avis discusses her relationship with their family nanny.
02:30 Robbie describes what they brought with them from South Africa to Canada.
04:30 Robbie and Avis discuss the reaction of their friends and relationships when they decided to leave.
08:26 Avis discuss the life pursuits of their three daughters: Dorit, Shira, and Susan.
11:05 Robbie and Avis discuss factors that contribute to their feeling and identifying as Canadian.