“My family hometown is Sackville, New Brunswick. My mother’s family has lived there for more than 150 years. Indeed, part of the original land grant remains in family hands. My father was an immigrant, moving here from Britain at the age of 16, shortly after the Second World War. Although he spoke the language, he was bullied unmercifully for his accent, and worked assiduously to lose it, so he would “sound Canadian.”
I spent 21 years in the Royal Canadian Navy, and for the first time really mixed with people from other parts of the country while serving in the lower deck of a warship. We all banded together to achieve a common set of goals. That experience — living in very tight conditions, and doing things you didn’t necessarily feel like doing but did so because you felt a duty to your shipmates — is something that had a profound impact on my sense of identity. In fact, it was the first time I was conscious of being more than just a New Brunswicker.
The essence of being Canadian to me is the freedom to be cosmopolitan, with the responsibilities that go along with it. For me this includes eating traditional New Brunswick things like baked beans, boiled dinners, and Fiddleheads, but also daal and Hilsa fish — staple dishes for my wife, who is of Indian Bengali heritage. It includes both celebrating Christmas, and going to the mandir, the Hindu temple, for Durgapuja or Saraswatipuja. It includes a weekend double-header that might include an afternoon Stampeders game followed by watching a Bollywood feature starring Aamir Khan or Amitabh Bachchan. Our daughter can seamlessly switch between English and Bengali, and it’s not a big deal because it’s part of her Canadian heritage.
I strongly believe that Canada must remain a place that has its door open to immigrants. I’d go further and say that if we don’t significantly increase our wealth-generating population, we will face profound economic and social challenges. Reasonable people can disagree over the details of immigration policies, but unless we want to become an irrelevant country, passed over by the rest of the world, a commitment to increased immigration is non-negotiable.” — Ian, Calgary/ Treaty 7