Canada Day — a day of celebration and a day of thanks. And also a day when we are reminded of responsibility.
Canada today celebrates this country’s 150th birthday. We have come far, overcome the adversarial and are building a society which already serves for many as a global template of achievement.
Millions of new Canadians pepper the true north. Some find the experience of building their new lives here more difficult than others.
Finding your path in a new society isn’t always easy. That’s fine with most Canadians, although pollsters hear concerns from some that not enough newcomers are willing to assimilate into Canadian society.
Is assimilation a fair expectation? One could argue it is. While no one is expected to ignore or forget the most significant parts of his or her individual experience, a shared social currency today augers well for tomorrow.
When I arrived in Canada as a reluctant 13-year-old, I brought with me certain habits, a different language and an expectation that my most dear experiences would fit in with the way of living of my Canadian peers.
That turned out to not quite be the case. Football to me was soccer, not guys crushing each other while wearing helmets and pads. Hockey required skating skills, which I didn’t have.
My social interactions were more reserved and clumsy than those of the kids who already lived in my new neighbourhood. I had two choices: hang on to what I’d brought and stand out as the “new kid,” or adapt to the new (to me, anyway) way of doing things.
Perhaps it’s the more fluid nature of youth which allows adolescents to quickly overcome potential barriers. I was willing to learn the new sports and customs like “hanging out” on street corners, jumping the turnstiles at the Montreal Forum and racing the corridors to a spot where I could watch the Habs. My new pals were in turn willing to teach me.
I didn’t sacrifice who I was. I simply discovered a way to bridge gaps and improve my experience in this new land, Canada.
The Canada of 2017 is very different from the Canada I discovered at 13.
Today I’ll share more of my personal experience growing into a self-identified and proud Canadian. I’ll also ask to hear your experience as a newcomer, or with newcomers.
Ultimately Canada’s success depends on the willingness of its people to work, socialize and play together.
Let’s talk on Canada’s 15oth birthday.