”I grew up on a small farm outside of Calgary, near Balzac. We grew wheat, barley and canola, but also had egg-laying chickens. My dad’s family’s has been in Alberta for over 100 years, arriving from Ireland, likely seeking opportunities in Western Canada. My mom immigrated when she was young, moving from London, England to Toronto. When she got older, she moved to Wetaskiwin, then to Calgary where she met my dad. They married and my mom moved to the farm where I spent my childhood.
At 18, I moved to Edmonton for university. The transition from a rural community to a large public university introduced me to people from very different backgrounds and opened me up to new ideas and experiences. Getting involved with student groups and campus life, in particular, really pushed me to figure out my values and my Canadian identity.
Growing up, I was instilled in school with the idea that multiculturalism is really what defines Canada, and I never really questioned that at the time. I remember learning about Canadian history in school, both the good and some of the bad in terms of treatment of racial minorities and Indigenous people, how we failed to live up to certain aspirations, and that it hasn’t always been a forward, progressive march. But I’ve always had a sense of optimism that things can be better if we worked together and towards this end.
In some respects, Canada was constructed on a cultural compromise between the English and French that never really gave one community complete dominance. I think this biculturalism expanded on what Canada now aspires to welcome people from a variety of backgrounds and where we accept and celebrate difference rather than attempt to stamp it out. At least this is my vision for Canada.
The only way we can live and flourish together is if we accept and celebrate those differences, and commit to ensuring this country is for everyone. My hope is that this experiment with multiculturalism and pluralism continues, but it will take our collective efforts to ensure that it does, as we resist the nationalistic and nativist voices emboldened in this current political context.” — Burnaby / Coast Salish Territories