“I have encountered multiple instances of bigoted remarks due to my ethnic background, as well as experiencing the trope of my peers wanting me to “assimilate” to Canadian society while also attempting to remind me as if I will never be a “true” Canadian”

In the past, especially in elementary school, I have encountered multiple instances of bigoted remarks due to my ethnic background, as well as experiencing the trope of my peers wanting me to “assimilate” to Canadian society while also attempting to remind me as if I will never be a “true” Canadian, which many infer to be a code word for those not of European descent. This perturbs me due to the fact that both my older siblings and I were born and raised in Canada.

My father was a Muslim immigrant from India who arrived in 1974, at the age of 23. He first landed in Montreal, and was a visible minority. As a result, he worked with employers who saw him as “the other”, and would often have trouble working with his peers, who would often mock his English despite his proficiency in the language. Over time, he gained the trust of his peers due to his sheer work ethic which impressed his employers and subsequently allowed him to rise within the ranks of his company despite these aforementioned obstacles.

“Since then, my family has felt “truly” Canadian”

My family used to live in multiple provinces, such as Quebec, Alberta (where my older sister and brother were born), New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia (where I was born). I moved to Ontario at the age of two, when I was far from cognizant of the realities my parents had to contend with for being immigrants. However, my parents recall my neighborhood in Whitby being very friendly and welcoming towards them despite their heritage. This was a far different experience from their life in Alberta, and can be attributed to the fact that in Ontario, urban and suburban areas were far more diverse and thus people of every race were more understanding and less likely to stigmatize immigrants. Since then, my family has felt “truly” Canadian.

– Osman, 20 

India