Happy Canada Day!
What are your roots? As we celebrated Canada Day this week, I was reminded just how blessed I am to live in this beautiful country! I have had people ask where I am from and I said “Canada” …and when they looked confused and asked again, “no what is your heritage?” I still said Canada!
But yes, I had great-grandparents that immigrated to Canada from other places, it just doesn’t seem that relevant to me because I wasn’t raised to maintain any traditions or culturally significant markers. We have a large family and we have family gatherings and traditions that are a part of that, but none of them are specifically cultural! My identity isn’t rooted in rituals from another country…it is rooted here in family. Our food traditions have changed over time and family gatherings (which could include up to 50 people if everyone makes it), are casual and comfortable. Our strongest tradition is Family Ties… but that’s a story for another time!
I don’t know what it is like to yearn for another place! I sheepishly admit that in spite of all my travelling I have always lived in Alberta, and most of the time within 150 km of where I was born! But I love travelling! I love to experience other cultures and see a world that is so different from my own!
But what if I had to tell a different story? What if I had come here and left behind all that was familiar? Have you ever been completely isolated from all that you know. Have you ever yearned for the comfort of home and been unable to access it? No way to call, make the food or immerse yourself in the community that feels like home? My daughter who moved overseas last year has been experiencing firsthand what it is like to be a part of a culture that is not her own! She went well aware of language and cultural differences and thought she wouldn’t experience much culture shock. It has been the small daily things that she didn’t expect to be different where she experienced culture shock! Did you know the tags on Japanese pants are in the front, not the back!! Can you think of why that might cause problems as you try to shop in Japan and wonder why everything fits so weird!
We have a lot of people who have come to live in our country from other places. What challenges do they face? They create spaces that reflect their cultural identity and gather community to enjoy the familiar and we ask why they don’t just “become Canadian” and leave behind the world they chose to leave!! And yet anywhere in the world you are you can go to McDonalds! This isn’t motivated by our love of the golden arches it comes entirely from our love of the familiar! With a wealth of culinary adventures surrounding us we sometimes just default to the familiar. Because we want it! Because adapting to the new and different is hard and scary and exhausting.
The other mother who’s children I now care for came to this country believing that she would be cared for by her spouse and fulfill her role as a wife and mother only to have her world implode. She found herself alone in a culture she did not understand with her roll expanded beyond what she was capable of managing! I cannot imagine navigating a foreign language and culture to survive and feed my children. But I know that I would not instantly thrive in a similar situation.
So let’s choose to be thankful for the country we live in and the freedoms we enjoy! What seems simple and normal to us is actually a really complex and scary world to a lot of the people who have moved here from elsewhere! So let’s hold our judgement, extend some grace and look for ways we can tangibly help make their experience of Canada a little better!
In the midst of the mess,