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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brian & Deya met in Vancouver Canada. After a few years together we were married and made choices. One was not to have children the other was not to take life for granted. The rest is yet to come.

November 21, 2010

I am Canadian!

Some of the proudest Canadians I have ever met were not born there. I often wondered about that and it’s been a discussion Deya and I have had many, many times. I never really understood though I figured it had something to do with what Canada means to them versus their country of origin. Along our path, particularly since we entered Mexico, Deya has been really upset about being continuously questioned where she is from. For me, it bothers me that I’m immediately thought of as ‘gringo’ and not as ‘person’. It seems to be a built in class or caste distinction that as a Canadian I’m unaccustomed to. It comes with benefits and costs and it is neither fair nor equitable so when Deya gets asked about where she is from there is also attached a class or caste distinction.

To get a better idea we’ve discussed over the months how Deya can be a Canadian while still respecting her heritage yet even if I get my citizenship in Mexico I could never be a Mexican. In an effort to help Deya to be confident about who she is and where she fits in we would go over all the things that she’s done and how her contributions are what really matter. That, what she does is more important than her colour or social status or where she was born. A good example of this in Canada is when a non aboriginal person gets accepted as a tribe member for their contributions to the community even though they are not of aboriginal decent. It’s about perspective and I knew it was bothering her so when a fellow working in the tourist industry approached us with very good English and started asking questions Deya began a rant that nearly killed me. This is about how it went:

Q. Where are you from?

Deya. Canada!

Q. No, No, really where are you from?

Deya. (An immediate frown formed and I knew she was pissed off when her fingers popped out to start counting)

“I was born when I crossed one of the largest nations in the world and soaked my feet in both her oceans, when I skied in the Rocky Mountains, crossed the Arctic Circle in the Mighty Yukon Territory and drank wine in the valleys of British Columbia. When I crossed the great plains of the Prairies, spoke French in Quebec and something else in Newfoundland. I have visited the home of Prime Minister Chrétien in Shawinigan and eaten lobsters on the beach in the Bay of Fundy. I am from the place where I work, pay taxes and contribute in a meaningful way. I voted liberal provincially and conservative federally and I have the right to complain about both parties plus the weather. I sometimes say: “Qué Pasa?, Eh!”, and enjoy good beer. I appreciate the heritage and culture of others including my own and that makes me Canadian!”

The guy looks at her with confusion and says: “But where are you from?”, Deya looked exhausted dropped her head a bit and said, “I was born in Veracruz”. The guy replied happily, “Oh so you’re one of us, Amiga!” and broke into his sales pitch with a local’s price. I thanked the fellow for chatting with us but didn’t want what he was selling; I knew I needed to get Deya away from this mess. I was laughing the whole time and patting her on the back for such an outstanding display of patriotism. The only thing Deya could say is that she didn’t accept that label, I couldn’t agree more.

The sad truth here is that the bulk of the people you meet have a limited view of their potential, of the importance of meaningful contribution and having pride in themselves. If they did they might be able to rant about what role they play for their country, not just for themselves and that who you are is more about what you do than it is where you were born, or to who, how much money you have or what shade of colour you might be.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you Brian and Deya. I too, feel that I contribute to Canada. It has been in our family for generations. We are lucky to have been blessed with having a culture that accepts anyone that values the life that Canada offers. No matter who we are or wear we came from in Canada we are free.

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  2. Hi from Boston! Looks like you've been making progress. Nice. Up here we're riding with the Gerbing's cranked up. Must be nice not to have to worry about cold much. Seems like you're keeping your eyes open. Let me know if I can help.

    John

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