Will I ever be "Canadian enough"?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 10, 2010 9:16 PM GMT
    Hello

    It's my first time starting a new topic, so if it's such a cliche, please excuse me.


    As you can see in my picture/profile, I'm an Asian guy living in Canada. I moved here in 2006 and lived in New Zealand before that (2001-2006).

    I always wanted to be a part of the country I lived in...I wanted to be a Kiwi and I also really want to be a Canadian.

    Yet, I realize that it's not really the case most of the time. When I lived in NZ, people always made me feel 'foreign' and, sometimes, second class. They usually assumed people like me (including my non-white friends who were born in NZ) couldn't speak English and it was their generosity that allowed us to exist on their land. They couldn't even tell I wasn't white on the phone so it's not like I had a strong accent either.

    After moving to Canada, things did get better. I rarely face open racism and people do generally accept me as is. Still, I feel like I'll always feel like an 'Asian guy who happens to live in Canada', not a Canadian, or even an Asian-Canadian.

    I read an online news article about the visible minority population of Canada will skyrocket in a few decades. People's comments were generally focused on the importance of adopting a Canadian lifestyle and identity. I do agree with this and this is exactly what I am trying to do. I was so proud to watch the Canadian athletes win the games for Vancouver 2010. (I almost cried when I found out Canada had the most number of gold medals)

    Yet, would people really recognize me as a Canadian when they find out that I'm not white like the 'regular' Canadians? I've wondered about this for years and it's constantly coming back...I feel like I'll always be reminded of the fact that I'm an Asian person who happens to live in Canada. I was talking to my parents about my self-identity as a Canadian and even they were telling me that I'll always be an Asian person, whether I choose to be or not.

    So, what do you think? Do you think it's normal and I should just get over it? I'm so bothered about this for some reason...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 10, 2010 9:21 PM GMT
    I am glad to hear this because I am glad you are making the attempt to assimilate. To a certain degree, you will always be the other. In some ways, as Jew in the Diaspora, I always feel like the ger (stranger). In other ways, I feel assimilated. Find your niche and grow. Its hard I know but you are making an attempt and that is commendable. Takes balls to try to embrace a new culture dude! Good luck dude!
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    Mar 10, 2010 9:41 PM GMT
    many people in Canada are not "canadians" That is what makes Canada Canada. Anyone who lives here is, inherently, Canadian, as it is a country made up mostly of immigrants who chose to keep much of the cultures they left behind.

    It also depends where you are living and how you are living. Are you living like canadians do? Do you do the things we do, or are you sticking to the cultural norm of new Zealand or wherever else you've lived.

    I know that here in Vancouver we would see you as a canadian, no doubt. And if you live here and Don't feel that way I'm not sure why that is, a hueg percent of the population is Asian, as it is in downtown Toronto, And Markham (Just north of Toronto).
  • imperator

    Posts: 626

    Mar 10, 2010 9:55 PM GMT
    It's cool, I guess, that you feel a desire to 'belong' in the country you're calling home but I think you're chasing a unicorn-- that is, the goal you're pursuing is something that people can imagine easily enough, but prove that it in fact exists. I'm Canadian but what does that mean other than that I live here? I'm white but there are millions of non-white Canadians. Hell, the first Canadians looked more like you (after they arrived across the Bering land/ice bridge thousands of years ago) than like me. Sometimes I'm polite and humble and all that purported Canadian 'stuff' but sometimes I'm not, and there are plenty of Canadians who display none of the personality stereotypes. I'm Canadian but I hate the winter and I only care about hockey when it's Canada versus someone-else for some kind of prestige; the rest of the time hockey has nothing to do with my sense of national identity.

    This whole idea of wanting to become "more Canadian" as though the end-point in that effort is some tangible, real 'thing' is-- I think-- a nationalistic misconception. You want to be a good Canadian? Love Canada and try to be a good citizen. Promulgate values that are good for the country: diversity, sensibility, decency, responsibility. I think this country's defined by its populace more than it defines us. Geography and political boundaries on the maps doesn't dictate our character; so if living here doesn't make people a certain way then I don't think you have to be a certain way to live here. Just try to be the best member of the community that you can and national 'identity' will take care of itself.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 10, 2010 9:58 PM GMT
    and the sad part is ur trying to be more canadian or at least canadian enuff for other canadians

    ...silly canadians ...lolzicon_lol.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 10, 2010 10:05 PM GMT
    I've lived in Canada for almost 35 years, and I do get the occasional question of where I'm from.

    Don't worry what other people think. Enjoy being you.
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    Mar 10, 2010 10:13 PM GMT
    Thank you all for your replies icon_smile.gif

    imperator saidYou want to be a good Canadian? Love Canada and try to be a good citizen. Promulgate values that are good for the country: diversity, sensibility, decency, responsibility. I think this country's defined by its populace more than it defines us. Geography and political boundaries on the maps doesn't dictate our character; so if living here doesn't make people a certain way then I don't think you have to be a certain way to live here. Just try to be the best member of the community that you can and national 'identity' will take care of itself.


    I understand what you mean. I do my best to make positive contributions to the country I call my home. I am proud to be here as a member of the society.

    I guess my 'insecurity' is based on my looks and how 'others' would see me...I know it's stupid that I care so much. Yet, it's often hard to ignore that as a person of colour...unfortunately.
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    Mar 10, 2010 10:22 PM GMT
    mizu5 saidmany people in Canada are not "canadians" That is what makes Canada Canada. Anyone who lives here is, inherently, Canadian, as it is a country made up mostly of immigrants who chose to keep much of the cultures they left behind.

    It also depends where you are living and how you are living. Are you living like canadians do? Do you do the things we do, or are you sticking to the cultural norm of new Zealand or wherever else you've lived.

    I know that here in Vancouver we would see you as a canadian, no doubt. And if you live here and Don't feel that way I'm not sure why that is, a hueg percent of the population is Asian, as it is in downtown Toronto, And Markham (Just north of Toronto).


    Thank you for your reply.

    I currently live in Toronto so I know what you mean by the large number of Asian people in GTA.

    I don't think people from NZ would have much trouble assimilating to the Canadian society. I mean, when I moved here I didn't feel like everything was 'new and foreign'. Due to the shared British heritage of the two countries, adjusting to the Canadian society wasn't that hard at all for me. Also, if you're a New Zealand European, you won't look much different from the majority of Canadians anyway.

    I do think I make an effort to adopt the Canadian lifestyle and values. As I said, I do feel very Canadian inside but I guess I'm just worried about my appearances and how others would see me. (I know this is somewhat stupid.) Also, I'm so 'white-washed' (I'm not sure if you've heard this term) that my parents are starting to worry about me losing my Korean heritage. Considering this, I think my question was to see how I would be seen by others...
  • oursirpeace

    Posts: 199

    Mar 10, 2010 10:50 PM GMT
    LOL I've been here 8 years and I have yet to figure out what "being a Canadian" means. Who cares? Canada is not about a specific culture, despite the fact that it's mostly white. As you stay here longer you will become less sensitive about identity crisis like this and instead focus on other more important aspects of your life. At the end of the day no one will gauge you as a person based on whether you are Canadian enough or not.
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    Mar 11, 2010 2:21 AM GMT
    If you would go to the Vancouver area, I think you should find many more Asians there. I know I live near LA and several of my friends came from Vietnam and they consider themselves Americans and their son was born here. I have not asked them specifically if they were considered American by the Anglo population. I do know that we have millions of Hispanics here too. I always assume they are all Americans. I am sure some ask stupid questions but you know many Americans can hardly pick out their state on a map. If you have an accent, some might, as I do, ask what country you came from. But, I think they would not automatically assume you were not an American. I don't really know what a Canadian would feel. I would hope the same way. Good luck and lots of success. Canada is a great country but, I will take the Winters here near Palm Springs, CA ha ha.
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    Mar 11, 2010 3:26 AM GMT
    oursirpeace saidAt the end of the day no one will gauge you as a person based on whether you are Canadian enough or not.


    Maybe you find this issue funny but I was actually serious about it.

    People may not care so much here but they certainly did in New Zealand which has become quite multicultural in the past few decades, at least in the cities. You may assume that I'm bothered about something minor and I'm just wasting too much time. Yet, having lived in NZ where people shout 'assimilation' without actually ever accepting people like me based on appearance, it does matter to me and I do like to have a sense of belonging.
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    Mar 11, 2010 3:29 AM GMT
    WELCOME. You`re here, now you`re Canadian.. And dude, you are in Toronto. There are tons of Asians there (Chinese mostly lol). Just don`t be a foreign troll by not learning one of the official languages. Be proud of where you`re from and socialize a lot. The only people who are really native to here are the Native Americans. All the whites and other races are also relatively new here.

    WELCOME!

    **edit**
    yeah a sense of belonging is really important. Everyone will talk about really Canadian things like Hockey and Molson etc but when it comes down to it, not everyone plays hockey (I never have played a full hockey game) and not everyone drinks Molson.
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    Mar 11, 2010 3:34 AM GMT
    TrowelMonger said
    Just don`t be a foreign troll by not learning one of the official languages.

    Didnt the OP say he speaks English so well that people cant tell on the phone that he isnt white? Isnt English an official language of Canada?
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    Mar 11, 2010 3:35 AM GMT
    ROTH99 saidI think they would not automatically assume you were not an American. I don't really know what a Canadian would feel. I would hope the same way. Good luck and lots of success. Canada is a great country but, I will take the Winters here near Palm Springs, CA ha ha.



    That's exactly what I meant by 'not being Canadian enough'. People will forever see me as an Asian person, not as a Canadian. This may not be true in urban centres of Canada/US but once I leave the cities, one of the first questions I'm asked is about my nationality/origin. They're usually surprised when I tell them I'm from Canada...they're expecting a different answer.

    I hate to go on about my past in NZ and I love that country. Yet, I really do feel that my experiences there influenced me greatly regarding my self-identity. I do know that people there have changed quite a bit since I left, and I shouldn't generalize. Still, because of those experiences, I'm still very conscious about who I am and how people would see me...unfortunately. I feel like I don't belong anywhere...
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    Mar 11, 2010 3:37 AM GMT
    Caslon13000 said
    TrowelMonger said
    Just don`t be a foreign troll by not learning one of the official languages.

    Didnt the OP say he speaks English so well that people cant tell on the phone that he isnt white? Isnt English an official language of Canada?


    Thanks for pointing that out!

    Yes, I DO SPEAK ENGLISH! and I don't think I have an accent...or at least people can't tell right away without seeing me in person. I used to have a full NZ accent but I quickly switched over to Canadian accent for some reason...
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    Mar 11, 2010 3:46 AM GMT
  • dantoujours

    Posts: 378

    Mar 11, 2010 4:00 AM GMT
    There is no Canadian identity to assimilate to. Canada is a multicultural country, not an assimilationist country like the US is or even a bi-cultural (Pākehā/Māori) country New Zealand is (and I lived there for 4 years).

    You'll always be an Asian Canadian, just like I am a British Canadian and others may be aboriginal, Ukrainian, Québécois, Sikh or Black Canadians. There's nothing wrong with that.

    Keep your foot in both cultures and add your voice to the tapestry. That's what makes Canada a unique and interesting place.
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    Mar 11, 2010 4:05 AM GMT
    the first canadians looked more like you than like me: the native americans come from a genome much more akin to yours than mine. perhaps in a global culture all this will become less important. i'm sorry you feel outside of the culture; however, i would also point out that you really can't be kiwi for five years and then be canadian for four years, and then maybe french for six years, and finally croatian for nine. it takes a life time to really become a part of the country where you live, even for the natives. how can you expect anything else?

    whites who live in asia often express the same sentiments. outsiders are outsiders. they are the "other." we evolved this way, and it will take time for it to change.

    i saw a bumper sticker once that said, "fuck til everyone looks the same."

    that time is coming.
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    Mar 11, 2010 4:06 AM GMT
    Caslon13000 said
    TrowelMonger said
    Just don`t be a foreign troll by not learning one of the official languages.

    Didnt the OP say he speaks English so well that people cant tell on the phone that he isnt white? Isnt English an official language of Canada?

    Err I was trying to say ``as long as your not one of those people who refuses to learn English or French, people will like you`. Wasn`t trying to take a negative tone in anyway. I get frustrated sometimes, for example in Richmond, when you walk into a mall and try to order something and the lady working there looks at you like you`re crazy.
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    Mar 11, 2010 4:24 AM GMT
    Being Asian, or Black, or Caucasian, or First Nation or whatever is ethnicity - none of us can change our genetic background. Being Canadian, or American, or Swiss, or Phillipine or whatever is nationality - and we all have the ability if we want to change that.

    How others look on us is mostly something we cannot change - by our actions and behavior we can influence how others see us, but ultimately others will form their own opinions and views. So focus on that which you can control - yourself and how you feel - and if others are inclined to see through some pre-concieved lens, f*** 'em.

    The fact that most Canadians are Caucasian is simply a reflection of past immigration polices. Those polices and immigration patterns have shifted dramatically in the past 20 years. The face of Canada will look significantly different 20 years from now.

    You live in Toronto, a huge multi cultural city. I live overseas, and when I travel back to Toronto, honestly it does not feel any different to me than Singapore, Dubai, London, and any of a number of other large international cities. Obviously each city has its own character, but in terms of ethnic make up of the place, to me it feels like just another big international city. Toronto, is one of the few Canadian cities where I feel 'at home' anymore, because I've lived overseas so long - i love that it is not mono cultural and ethnically pure laine.

    All the best bud icon_biggrin.gif
  • CAtoFL

    Posts: 834

    Mar 11, 2010 4:35 AM GMT
    I think a lot of people feel a 'learning curve' in the process of assimilating into a new culture or location.

    If it helps, you can decorate your room as in this video:



    icon_biggrin.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 11, 2010 5:14 AM GMT
    PSCalif saidI think a lot of people feel a 'learning curve' in the process of assimilating into a new culture or location.

    If it helps, you can decorate your room as in this video:



    icon_biggrin.gif


    I think I saw that video a few months ago. I wonder what people would think if I really did that XD
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 11, 2010 6:02 AM GMT

    you work here, you pay taxes, you buy stuff, you take part in activities,
    you socialize, you vote, you stay informed , you got your papers all in good order ... you're canadian.
    you'll come across bigots, racists, idiots just as anywhere else.

    and time is a factor. The longer you will be here, the more you'll feel and be perceived as part of the very fiber of the country.

    but on a more personal note, i don't give a shit about nationalistic attitudes.



  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 11, 2010 7:06 AM GMT
    Canada is such a young country that its identity is still evolving. You can't do anything to be more Canadian except live your life here longer and longer and longer. I am only second generation, but still, my identity, like so many others, is mostly tied to my ancestors country/culture of origin. That goes for the majority of Canadians whether British, French, Ukrainian, German, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Japanese, Korean... I'm white yet have nothing in common with any of the Canadian stereotypes that were promoted during the Olympics, for example. I don't even know anyone who can skate! Learn about all the cultures that are here. That is the real Canada, and the Canada of the future.
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    Mar 11, 2010 10:05 AM GMT
    Meh. I wouldn't worry about. You obviously can speak english well, and because you live in Canada, that indeed makes you Canadian. I wouldn't let people's reactions bother you. If anything they're just expecting you to be a stereotypical asian; Just prove 'em wrong and they'll stfu.