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A Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian': A reflection of what makes us Canadian

Jul 01, 2018 03:47PM ● Published by Editor

Photo: Mark Blinch/Canadian Press

By Christina Jung and  Kirthana Sasitharan · CBC News · July 1, 2018

Every time I meet a new Canadian, my heart skips a beat and while I silently jump for joy for their achievements, I also worry as I know what it's like to move halfway across the world to a foreign country.

As an only child, my parents wanted to give me a better life and a chance for a better education. Moving from South Korea at the age of five in 1992, I remember learning the alphabet in the car, as my dad encouraged me to read the license plate of cars out loud.

Growing up my family never celebrated Canada Day. It wasn't because we didn't want to, but being a small grocery shop owner meant that I was home alone on most days until the store closed at 11 p.m. and my parents were working seven days a week. This was common among immigrant families in the 90s.

It wasn't until I was accepted into Simon Fraser University that I decided to give up my Korean citizenship and truly become Canadian. It took about a year of contemplating before I finally pulled the plug and it wasn't an easy decision. My Korean citizenship allowed me to still feel Korean and it gave me a sense of identity in a world that I was so unfamiliar with. But it wasn't too long before I started to question who I really was. Could I really call myself Korean if I only lived there for the first five years? I also had very little knowledge of historical Canadian figures or events, so how could I really call myself Canadian?

As time went by and the years passed, I realized to be Canadian means to embrace my new culture while still maintaining my Korean traditions. Having spent Canada's 150 birthday in Ottawa last year, deep in my heart, I knew that Canada as a country embraced me exactly for who I was - half Korean and half Canadian. — Christina Jung, Reporter

Being Canadian means being safe.

When I came to this country as a baby, the only intention my parents had was to ensure I was kept away from a ruling war and I could lead a better life. The sentiments of safety and escaping hardship is often the underlying reason that many people leave their homelands. To me, Canada as a whole has been safer than the rest. I've been lucky enough to have a roof over my head since the day I landed; food to eat from every part of the world; and water to drink from the the freshest lakes.

But Canada has also taught me a lot about hardship- just a different kind of hardship then what my parents sought to \ escape. I watched my father work three jobs a day and sleep for less than four hours at a time. I've watched him sacrifice the cost of a cup of coffee, only to get me a small toy that made me the happiest. I've watched him go through injury after injury, but rise again because of his resilience.

I now watch him begin his new business. He lives the Canadian dream.

My mother left behind a steady job as a teacher, her valuable double degrees having no value when she came to Canada. But she began again. She learned English, she got a job, she molded our family to seek positivity and adventure whenever we can.

And now, she manages a full time job, full time school, and the responsibilities of a family.

Being Canadian to me means having opportunity. I've seen that come true for my family. I've seen it's impact on every person I come across that has made Canada their new home. There is a fight toward seizing opportunity to say thanks to this country for providing safety.

I have grown to encapsulate so much Canadian pride and embody the stereotypes associated with Canadians, unapologetically.

I am proud "eh" user and I persistently over apologize to anyone and everyone.

I even once apologized to a pinecone I once stepped on.

I've also grown to understand the dark history of the country. I know that not everyone feels safe here, I know people have been treated horrifically here and not everyone feels as though they have opportunity. Canada holds a dark history and thanks to my education and the media, I know better. The Canadian experience differs from person to person and no one word can encapsulate what it feels like to be Canadian.

But a Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian.— Kirthana Sasitharan, Reporter

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