Where Are You From?
Canada takes pride in its multicultural population. In 2011, the National Household Survey found that there are more than 200 ethnic origins in the country. Not only that, but 19.1% of the population identified themselves as a member of a visible minority group, and 30.9% of those people were born in Canada. With so many diverse people living in Canada, one wonders how they identify themselves when asked “where are you from?” As an immigrant, it can be confusing, especially when you’re still young.
If you were born in Canada, but have parents of a different ethnic origin, how do you answer that question? Do you say that you’re from your parents’ country because you grew up with those values and speak their language, or are you Canadian because you grew up here? There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your ethnic roots; being able to converse in a language other than English or French is fantastic, and growing up with different traditions makes you wonderfully unique. However, there’s also nothing wrong with simply identifying as Canadian because in every sense, you are. You grew up here, contribute to Canadian society, and multiculturalism is something fundamentally very Canadian.
I have a different perspective because I was not born in Canada, but I’ve been living here for almost three years. When someone asks me where I’m from, it’s easy to answer “Philippines” because I was born and grew up there. Furthermore, my current citizenship is Filipino, so it only makes sense. However, should the day that I become a Canadian citizen come, would it be right for me to say that I am now Canadian? Some would say no because I would be turning my back to my roots; others would say yes because I would be contributing to Canadian society, and my values have become Canadian through the years I’ve lived here.
To me, it does not matter how I will eventually identify as because I believe you’re a product of all the places you’ve lived in. I have values and habits picked up from growing up in the Philippines, studying in Singapore, and living in both English and French-speaking Canada. If you’re like me and sometimes feel like you don’t know where you belong, know it’s okay to identify with whatever you feel is right. After all, we’re all living on the same planet anyway.