From feeling Canadian to being Canadian

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My journey from St. Martin to a small Canadian mountain town

By Julian Giordano

I was born on St. Martin, a small colonial island in the Caribbean Sea. My family lived on the French side of the island, with the west side being under Dutch control. My roots are French and Italian, but my parents had lived around the globe before meeting and settling down in St. Martin and popping me out into existence.

Tensions began to rise in neighboring islands however, due to poor living conditions, and locals began fighting for their independence. Adding into the mixture the constant stream of hurricanes every year, my family decided it was best to move and find a new place to call home.

At the age of 11, I found myself in a vast mountainous region lost in a small rocky mountain town in the heart of British Columbia. Environmentally I underwent a massive shift, coming from a tropical island surrounded by a warm ocean to being placed in a mystical snowy valley. I had never witnessed snow before my arrival to Canada, and I soon grew to love the mountains and jumped into a variety of thrilling sports granted by the glorious peaks.

The Canadian culture was another factor that changed my life dramatically. In the Caribbean, racism and poverty was much more prevalent, but people were disarmingly relaxed and content. I found that Canada has a much higher standard of living, but people seem tenser.

Throughout my adolescence in Canada, I realized how materialism and one’s image is an apparent factor in how individuals judged and treated you. I found this challenging to grasp at first, and had a hard time understanding why other kids would pick on me for my appearance and the way I acted. But I soon adapted and became assimilated to the style of interactions and appearances in my small Canadian mountain town.

After I graduated from high school, I underwent four years of privileged Canadian university, and I took an interest in understanding my new home’s rights and politics. I soon fell in love with the Canadian system and felt honoured to be a permanent resident of Canada. However, I’ve always felt Canadians were a bit spoiled, for overlooking so many of the privileges and freedoms granted to them. With that said. I loved the polite and easy going attitude of the endless people I met across the country.

I could not wait to become a true Canadian citizen, and 12 years after setting foot on this grandiose land, my parents and I finally applied for citizenship. Sixteen months later, we found ourselves swearing our oath to the Queen and being accepted with open arms by a country I grew to love and cherish.

This wonderful event happened not even two weeks ago, and three days after, I was granted the one privilege I never had as a permanent resident — the opportunity to vote and help dictate which path my country would head in.

I had already spent half of my life in Canada before becoming a full citizen. I felt a sense of identity within Canada. In fact, not much changed when becoming a full-fledged citizen, but on that day I truly felt I belonged to Canada. It turned out to be an emotional event, and I was filled with joy after the ceremony. I voted shortly after, and felt proud to be fully part of this diverse country and to call myself a Canadian.

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