Immigration to Canada
This is my own opinion. Do not come. It is too hard. I have heard too many heart-breaking immigrant stories. Look at the broom outside your own house. In your own country. Sweep a little, plant a rose and STAY THERE. Do not immigrate to Canada.
We the Immigrants:
I am South African. I live in Canada. I hold citizenship for both countries.
Traitors at heart?
©Audrey N Painter
June 6, 2003.
A few months into a new war, patriotism stands out with fresh prominence as an issue. To fight for your country speaks of loyalty to a nation – the nation you are willing to serve and protect by giving up your life. But which country?
We are the immigrants – the first or second-generation immigrants that now have to deal with a conflict of interest in our hearts and minds. Which country do we serve? I believe that few people with a sound mind decide on any given day to pack a suitcase, say goodbye to mothers, fathers, siblings and friends and leave their homeland merely for a life of adventure in a foreign country. You leave because you need to. Reasons are numerous; rarely is pleasure a motive. If you get to the stage where immigration forms and fees pile up and you are struggling emotionally to end a period of your life, you have an extremely good reason to leave the country of your birth.
In the Boer war at the turn of the last century, the Afrikaans farmers in South Africa fought against the British Forces. Those who wouldn’t fight were considered traitors. Deserters have never been tolerated. You fight for your people and your country. You die and become a hero; you live and become a proud veteran, honoured by your country. Is this still true? How many generations does it take for immigrants to become loyal countrymen? Who are we?
In my heart and soul I am and will always be a South African. This may be politically incorrect to say. We are grateful to be here, I value my new life in Canada and teach my children to stand on guard when singing their new national anthem, but involuntarily I teach them to be South African. Every day, with the Afrikaans language we speak at home and the stories I tell, I unconsciously make my children loyal to my country of birth. They are South African.
My friend Amy was the first North Korean I’d ever met. North Korea is no longer just a name of a place I hear on the news: it is Amy’s home. Our children now have close friends from Pakistan and China. We all have a few parallels. English is our second language; we have our closest family members living thousands of miles away in poverty or war stricken countries. We visit them often and cherish our culture, ways, language and religion, regardless of what the governments of our homelands do or decide.
Why do we not want war? Economic reasons? I hope that I am correct in thinking that we have not stooped that low. The loss of innocent lives and the devastation of infrastructure provide more acceptable reasons, which we have hopefully learned from history – with a snag. These lives and infrastructures under fire mean something to us immigrants to the United States, Canada, Britain and the United Nation Countries. Our countries of birth may now be under attack, our family members and friends may now be the enemy. Globalization renders a new threat. Does official citizenship oblige allegiance? When does a passport become more than a piece of documentation? Do I put my son in a fighter jet with missiles aimed at his cousins and grandfather?
I have worked at being more Canadian for five years. Maybe you do get to a point where you proudly and profoundly announce: “I am Canadian” with all your heart. But if Canada were to go to war against South Africa today, please execute me as a traitor, for this is what I am – involuntarily perhaps, but undeniably. - June 6, 2003.
I wrote this on June 6, 2003. My opinion is still the same. I have lived in Canada for eleven years. To comment or to ask for permission to publish this piece, please contact me.