One of the very first things I noticed after moving to Canada was the fact that nobody refers to themselves as a Canadian. Not in an every day context, at least, and not to each other. Instead, people refer to themselves as Scottish, Italian or Polish or whatever other country there family originated from.
This is because Canada is a land of immigrants. It’s almost impossible to find someone whose great grandparents were born on Canadian soil since the country is so young; but despite decades of Canadian residence, many of these people – now second or third generation – still whole-heartedly refer to themselves as being from another culture. But how can that be, often without them having set foot in there supposed country of origin, without citizenship or without the ability to speak the native tongue?
This is where boundaries get blurred: what makes a person who they are? Does the country they are born in and the culture they absorb define them? At what point is a person no longer an immigrant and what’s wrong with embracing the Canadian identity? When everybody claims to be from their ancestral land, it becomes difficult to determine who bravely made the leap to start a new life abroad and who was born into their current culture and customs. As an immigrant and a geography student, this concept both frustrates and puzzles me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m the last person to be encouraging people to forget about their roots and heritage, just don’t go neglecting the big guy. Canadian first, Scottish/Italian/Polish/wherever your background is from, second. We’ve got a beautiful country here, let’s not forget it.