O Canada! Your surprises have always been subtle, but constant; and although those moments seem to have faded away with time, I realize they have simply become, a way of life.
I clearly remember that fourth day of September in 2009 when I formally became known as a landed immigrant. The immigration officer at the Calgary arrivals terminal received me after a grueling 20-hour itinerary with a genuine smile through her thick-frame glasses, stamped my paperwork and said “Welcome Home”. That was the moment I realized that the trail of memories and experiences I left behind was not a detached part of the past but rather a turning point in my journey that is about to unfold. Canada Day has always been a reminder of that journey and the person I have become as a result of it.
The journey has been longer and bumpier that I could have imagined, and it has taken many twists and turns as the years went by. One of my personal triumphs has been a behavioural change to the better as I embraced those new Canadian values that I picked up along the way. Values that protect collectivist welfare and cherish individual freedoms, values that dignify the human and condemn aggression; values that make me see the world from a different lens rather than in narrow focus. I learnt that sharing what you have is a strong characteristic of being Canadian. I have learnt to give without telling, to share without being asked, and to respect regardless of whom. I have been on the receiving end enough times to pay it forward.
Canada Day reminds me of my heritage. It has in some mysterious way brought me closer to my roots, my land, my family and my language. It makes me look into the horizon, piercing through the fluttering flags, music and fireworks, to think of what could have been instead; but my thoughts always seem to rush back, whispering in my ear, “I made it”, as a smile draws on my face.
Yes I made it. It is however, difficult sometimes to explain these achievements when I compare them to those of others who did not take my journey; those who were busy building families, buying real estate or planning their careers, while I was busy becoming a Canadian, with all the hardships, disappointments and triumphs it entailed.
What made it all worth it to me is being called a loving husband and father, a dedicated worker and a responsible citizen who feels part of a respectful, caring and loving community. I now acknowledge that looking at the same mountain top becomes boring when you start living on it, but it doesn’t mean that it is any less majestic that your first encounter and that is how I would sum up my not-so-new Canadian life.
By Nazmi Kamal, Education Coordinator.