Monday, June 3, 2013

Less Than the "R" Word

Where are you from?  

It’s an innocuous enough question in a city like Toronto.  Everyone is from somewhere else, right?

What if I am not from “somewhere else?”

As a non-white person, I am accustomed to the question, and it does not offend me.  What I do not understand is the “expectation” that some people continue to have in 2013.  If I am not “white” I “must” be from somewhere else.  

Another thought in that line comes from the lack of validity of the answer “I was born here”.  That response usually garners: “but where are you really from?”  I have never understood why my parents’ origin, a country I have never lived in and am utterly removed from, is a more valid answer than the country of my birth. I'm not "really" from the country I was born in apparently.

What does Canada lack that makes others think that?  Should I reply: "my mother's womb?" Is that answer specific enough?

Generally, I think that people understand that this is a nation literally built on immigration and therefore the pride one feels for their place of origin is high compared to whatever they feel for the country in which they have decided to reside.  The obvious point here is that most people, who choose to leave one country, usually move to one they think is in some way better.

Living here was not a choice I made; this is where I was born. To compound that fact, I literally grew up with my mother (who has lived in 4 different countries on 2 different continents) repeatedly telling me that "Canada is the best country in the world." It should come as no surprise then that I am just as proud of my country of birth as most other people are of theirs.  I am a Woman of Colour; I am Canadian, final answer.