Sunday, June 6, 2010

Still Canadian?

I guess the upcoming July 1st and July 4th holidays have me considering my citizenship and residence situations (as my last post hinted at). I realized a very interesting truth just recently. Because I have been out of Canada for a decade, I actually can't say I know too much about what is going on in my motherland. I read Canadian news online quite regularly and I speak with friends and family often, but that isn't the same as being there.

What I'm noticing is that my prolonged absence is making me feel a little uncomfortable in declaring "I'm Canadian" too loudly. I realize that if I were to fly into Calgary today, it would have a foreign feel to me. Strange but true. The red and white maple leaf would stand out because I am so accustomed to seeing the stars and stripes now. The accent would jar me into realizing how long it's been since I've heard it all around me.

What I also realize is that even though I feel a detachment from all things Canadian, I do not feel American either. It is my country of residence and I have my home here, but it is not my home.

The most comfortable statement for me right now is more like "I'm not American". It's getting so I understand more about what I'm not about than what I am about. I'm sure many immigrants feel this same orphan-like status.

Bottom line, I'm still extremely proud to claim my Canadian roots and I'm extremely grateful for all the amazing things America has allowed my family to experience. I guess I am enriched by my exposure to both of these nations. Knowing this, I can allow myself to feel tethered to both. Instead of feeling adrift, I can feel doubly grounded.


Anonymous said...

Yes, when I go back to Finland these days, I feel like a turist. I open up a magazine from a news stand and don't recognize the celebrities anymore. And yeah, 4th of July and Thanksgiving - I don't really know whether it would be appropiate for me to celebrate them. 'The little one' sees all the 4th of July stuff at the stores though and wants it all; an uncle sam hat, pompoms in Am. colours, flags.. But, at least people won't say to you Canadians that you have a 'cute' accent. That irritates the heck out of me after 9 years in the US. People don't get it that commenting on an accent is not a compliment, it's an insult...

Catherine said...

Something about comments on my accent always makes me feel "different" and maybe even "you don't belong" - no one likes that feeling.

I had my two kids here so I'm mindful of celebrating American holidays since half my family is American - but I usually point out that things are different where I come from.