Asking new citizens and travellers about celebrating this country
By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
Canada Day celebrations are coming fast, but the decision to celebrate the first of July is a contentious issue to many. Depending who you ask, it is a day steeped with shame and regret and should not be celebrated. Others rejoice on this day in celebrating Canada’s independence as a country and its many rights and freedoms. So, is it worth celebrating our True North as strong and free? To get a outside opinion, the Other Press asked new travellers and immigrated citizens of Canada for their perspectives.
Press: Why did you (or your family) decide to come to Canada?
Jenny V: I wanted to study abroad, and my overprotective dad wouldn’t let me go anywhere without a relative. It was either Canada or the US. I took a vacation trip to both countries to visit the schools, and Canada was undoubtedly the better choice for me.
Juan C: It all started with my mom’s dream of giving her family a better life with better opportunities. Because she has a sister already residing in Canada, it was a “go” signal for her to work as a caretaker, be a permanent citizen, and then someday petition us to migrate in Canada. Five years later, she accomplished her lifelong dream, and the rest is history.
Smith G: I was feeling a little lost in England, and a friend of mine had previously lived in Vancouver for a year and suggested that I give it a try. I was swayed by the promise of mountains, beaches, and beautiful views—and I wasn’t disappointed.
Danielle O: My partner and I decided to come to Canada because we wanted to move away from home to experience something new—a different culture also a little adventure.
Melly Z: To give my child a better life first of all. Canada offers a better salary for workers than that of my mother country. You can buy a house, a car, and offer improved education opportunities to your child. Back in my country we were not treated well—for example, I was a receptionist. My salary was so little and the company was clearly taking more off the top. There was a lot of corruption and life was full of unfairness. Life was miserable—emotionally and financially. It was very stressful so you wanted to escape so you could finally breathe!
Lloyd M: I came to Canada because my country was becoming a communist dictatorship. I was in my 6th month of university but decided to run away from the dictatorship which offered no humans rights, no pay—we were just left to survive like poor people and thieves.
OP: What would you celebrate about Canada?
JV: High quality education, heart-warming people and their holiday spirits, diverse food options, accessible public transportation, hiking trails, fruits from local farms, the fireworks in July, Christmas lights, changing of the seasons, the views from the SkyTrain.
JC: A lot has to be celebrated in Canada. Canada valuing people’s rights is something that should be noticed and celebrated. Living in this country is a gift that should not be taken for granted. Being a criminology student and learning about Canada’s law made me realize how important people’s rights are. Living in the Philippines before, where people’s rights are not truly lived, I can say that Canada has done way more and has taken good care of people’s rights.
SG: Canada is firstly a beautiful place to live. The amount of care given to public parks and outdoor spaces is amazing—something I didn’t see as often whilst living in the UK. Although I understand Canada has had its issues with racism in its recent history, I believe Canada to be beautifully multicultural. Beyond that I feel that Canada is inclusive and celebrates its LGBTQ+ community. As an immigrant to this country, I also found the ability to join the workforce super easy. Jobs for immigrants here seem plentiful. Add into that the fact there is no stigma around marijuana use here. England still sees weed smokers as pariahs and wasters, but here it’s the norm. You can partake or not, people don’t bat an eyelid and I think the country is better off for it.
DO: How beautiful the country is. I’ve only seen a small part of it but I’m excited to explore as much as I can in the time I have.
LM: The beautiful greenery. My home country had much of its nature destroyed so our beaches, parks, and trails in Canada should be fully enjoyed and appreciated. Celebrations give meaning to our time, so always look to celebrate the good things in life.
OP: What is a Canadian quirk you don’t have in your country?
JV: Being able to take a bike ride along the seawall in during the fall. In short, the atmosphere. I have never been an outdoor person, but the nature, the air, and the seasons here make me regret spending my weekend at home with Netflix. Even a short walk to the bus stop or uphill on Mount Douglas can fulfil my heart. As summer arrives, I can’t wait to put on my new shoes and enjoy this Canadian quirk again after such a depressing time.
JC: The quirk that Canadians are super polite, especially when it comes to customer service. Thinking that Canadians are only polite because they “often” say sorry is a mainstream stereotype. Canada is more than that; Canada is the home of great service. In my home country, especially in my hometown, feedback about service is not really considered and appreciated. In Canada, however, feedback is mostly valued. This makes the country truly unique!
SG: The biggest quirk I actually found was the word toque. England calls them beanie hats or bobble hats. No one would tell me what the word toque meant, I just kept getting told that I was wearing one.
DO: I can’t think of a quirk, but we don’t have poutine in Ireland. You have the same number of pubs, but happy hour is a lot more popular here than Ireland. Oh, and brunch—it’s not common to go to brunch with friends. I’ve never asked or heard anyone ask to go out for brunch, but that’s my experience.
Canada is by no means a perfect country. Is there even such a nation though? Even with all of its historical flaws, migrants of this country—new and old—find reason to celebrate the day of its creation.