Light years, months, or even days ago, you were in another part of the world, with a different identity and heritage and values. You knew little or nothing about Canadian heritage, or maybe you still don’t know. You were comfortable in your skin being who you were – as a citizen of your country of origin. You spoke your local language. You showed respect in the way you were taught, in your way. You knew your rights as a citizen and maybe you still do. You just couldn’t be pushed around, at least within the ambits of the law.
It’s the same narrative for every one of us.
But that was then.
This is now.
A lot has changed, and we are no longer who we were. A lot has to be redefined.
Serious question: Do you really know what it means to be a Canadian apart from holding the Canadian passport? Can you talk the talk? (and this isn’t just about a certain intonation). Can you walk the walk? (this isn’t about mannerism either). Do you know the true history of your new country? Your new identity? Your rights as well as duties and obligations?
We are Canadians!
We have a new identity as first-generation Canadians.
To be fully integrated in Canada, it is essential to unlearn, learn and relearn. Canada has its own rich history, symbols, rights and obligations. It isn’t enough to learn them. We must respect them. We must own them as ours.
We have our original heritage and values. And we have to imbibe the new values. Values that are important to your new country and society. These will redefine us.
Truly feeling like a new person that belongs to a new place, a new culture, a new language and a whole new way of life is not as simple as reading the manuals that we study when we are getting our citizenship. Since we have left our country of origin to make Canada home, it is important to learn the culture and align with this new reality. For instance, what translates to being respectful back home in our country of origin may not hold true here. How much of our cultural heritage have we brought to our new environment, that makes us look odd, or make others seem so odd to us?
To have full integration here and be truly comfortable and fulfilled as a Canadian, it is compulsory to unlearn, learn and relearn. Canada has its own symbols. Canadians have rights and obligations. The Maple Leaf country has a rich history. We have our rule of law. These have to be learnt. And it isn’t enough to learn them. We must respect them. We must own them as ours.
Do you have an experience to share on cultural interaction or cultural conflict? Can someone else benefit from listening to your journey of integration? It does not necessarily have to be serious talk. Perhaps it’s a funny experience and you came out of it learning more about what being a Canadian is. Join our community to share your experience with other first-generation Canadians. Your story might just be what another person needs to hear, to learn and to move on.