By Lauren Kelly, Editor-in-Chief
If you can’t tell based on my last name, I’m part Irish. I’m also part a bunch of other things. Growing up in Canada with parents and grandparents who were never too in touch with their heritage either, I don’t really have any culture other than Canadian. I don’t have a second language, and I’ve never been to any of the countries I can trace my family back to. I know I’m far from alone in feeling that disassociation from my heritage.
It makes days like Saint Patrick’s Day a little weird. For me, Saint Patrick’s Day doesn’t really enter the equation of things I think to celebrate. It falls in the busy month of March for my family as the day after my mom’s birthday, and one of the few days leading towards mine and my cousins’. It’s the one big Irish celebration, but I never really do anything for it—not that most people celebrate it in an especially culturally-sensitive way. Regardless, I just don’t feel any real connection with it in any way.
Still, it’s easy to feel a little left out when you have heavily-Irish friends who are actually celebrating with their families and doing cool Irish things. It’s not even that I particularly want to be more in touch with my roots. It just feels like I’m missing what is an integral part of a lot of people’s lives, whatever their culture is. It’s something that I’m used to, though, and it’s something that I’m okay with.
In recent years, I’ve spent holidays with my family retracing our Canadian roots—travelling to Humboldt, Saskatchewan, where my great-uncle served as mayor for many years, and Englefeld, where he, my Papa, and their many siblings were raised; visiting Marie-Reine and Peace River, Alberta, where my step-dad lived when he was young; going to my great-grandma’s old house and my great-grandpa’s place of work in Edmonton to see where my Nana grew up. Along the way, we’ve visited a lot of cemeteries to say goodbye to relatives I may have never met, but who are still a part of me, and visiting the houses of my still-alive relatives in other provinces who I hadn’t yet gotten to know.
So while Saint Patty’s Day may not be for me, and I may not know much about all the countries I’m technically from, I’m lucky to have learned a lot about the my family and its roots around Canada over the last few years, and gotten in touch with my own, familial culture. And I think that’s incredibly valuable.