Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Am I considered a Canadian if I migrated to Canada when I was 11yrs old?

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  • #1036781 Reply

    I struggle identifying myself sometimes. I feel sometimes I am Canadian because I don’t fit in with groups who are from my country and sometimes I feel left out
    and struggle with fitting in with Canadians (people born in Canada). Most people who are born here but are ethnically from my culture don’t identify me as a Canadian.

    #1037043 Reply

    By definition, Canadians are either born in Canada or go through a naturalization process to become a citizen. However, while you don’t say how long it’s been since you were 11, if you live here and you feel Canadian, then you are. If it will make you feel better, you could take the steps to become a citizen but even your current permanent residency status entitles you to most of the benefits of citizenship, except voting. There are a lot of people whose families come from elsewhere who are born here – you can’t tell if someone’s a Canadian from looking at them. Go forth and embrace your Canuckness. If you need to make the point, sprinkle a few ‘ehs’ into your speech, slather things with maple syrup and make snide remarks about the weakness of American beer. That’ll about do ya.

    #1038246 Reply

    I’ve been in Canada for 15yrs now, while legally I am a citizen there this thing in immigrants culture where if you are born here or came to Canada at a young age you are considered more Canadian than others migrants who might have immigrated at an older age. So for example my family keep introducing my brother to my relatives as the more Canadian one because he came to Canada at age 7 almost 8yrs of age was 2 months away from his birthday when arrived in Canada. They say things like he was too young so he can’t speak the language, in a very proud manner like it some sort of an achievement if you can’t speak you mother tongue. My sister and I are introduced as the others who can speak the language, therefore no Canadian enough.

    #1039918 Reply

    Canadian here, born and raised.

    It sounds like your issue isn’t really about how Canadian you are, it’s about feeling hurt that your parents talk about your brother with more pride than they do you and your sister. I would hope that this isn’t their intention and that they’d be dismayed to learn you’re feeling this way. I think you should try telling them (calmly, without getting defensive) that the way they talk about him, compared to you, sometimes makes you feel like you’re not good enough. Even if they don’t change anything after that, at least you’ll have gotten it off your chest.

    For the record, your parents are wrong. You’re as much a Canadian as your brother is – heck, you’re as much as a Canadian as I am. Being Canadian isn’t about homogenizing until you blend in, it’s about honouring your roots, and celebrating each other’s differences. Being Canadian is often about having a multi-faceted identity – dual citizenships, multiple languages, new and old traditions.

    Your parents don’t speak for all immigrant culture in Canada – in some families (like my husband’s), it’s a point of pride to be able to speak the mother tongue. It’s an achievement to speak more than one language, so hats off to you! Bilingual folks are more highly sought after in the job market and have been shown to have greater cognitive power. I bet your brother secretly wishes he could speak the mother tongue too.

    #1040572 Reply

    Have you tried to search online to see what resources are available to you? Identity issues are common with third culture kids and immigrants.

    So my family is culturally mixed — my mom was an immigrant who finally became a citizen when I was in college and we spent time in her home country and the U.S. when I was a kid, then moved to Asia for middle and high school. So, I get what it’s like to be raised straddling different cultures while not feeling like you fully belong in any. But I always thought it was pretty cool to have several cultures in my life that felt like home and never felt like I needed to tie my identity to one. Not to mention, cultural sensitivity, empathy, adaptability, and the ability to speak more than one language are amazing traits.

    Since this seems to be affecting you so much, have you considered speaking with a mental health professional?

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