Comforting Words: Christmas Reflection #6

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas Reflection #6

It was not intentional on my part but I am also sure it was not accidental that I chose yesterday (Friday) to visit the Canada Citizenship and Immigration web site.

Even before our feet touched the soil of this wonderful country, my partner and I were very clear that as soon as possible we would apply to become citizens of Canada. We (or rather I) checked the various government sites to find out exactly when permanent residents, which we are, can do this and learnt that we had to wait at least three full years after living here.

So, we waited and in September of this year as we celebrated our third year of residency in Canada, our thoughts went to applying for citizenship but this time I did not go back to check on what to do next.

For some reason my thoughts went to this matter yesterday and I went to the Canada Citizenship and Immigration site and downloaded the requisite application forms and noted that citizenship will cost us Cdn$200 each. "That's a small price to pay to live in this great country," I thought.

Canada is my home now. As a child, my mother would talk about this country and there was a time when she had a slim chance of coming here - as a nanny or something of that nature. She did not grasp the opportunity, however, as she claims she did not want to leave me behind for any length of time while she settled in Canada. That was the story she stuck to at least. This was her way of reminding me how much I owed her.

The way my mother spoke about Canada planted a seed in my heart and regardless of what she would later say it did not change my unexpressed curiosity about this country.

As I grew up, I would periodically seek out information about Canada and much later, when my partner and I knew we could no longer 'survive' in Jamaica, Canada became, at least for me, The Promised Land on many levels, not least of which is its celebration of diversity and difference. This celebration was so clear to me last night (Friday) as I watched the English-language Leaders' Debate on CBC.

Much time was spent by these four men trying to outdo each other, which led me to remark to my partner how similar politicians are in every country I/we have ever visited or lived in. The rhetoric, the posturing and the selective use of statistics to score points were as much in evidence as in any political campaign I have witnessed in Jamaica, the Ukraine or in Britain for example.

Nevertheless, it was the tone of the debate that left me thinking that what these four political leaders and the people of Canada, for the most part, are exhibiting is a love of a country so diverse in its cultures, philosophies and political outlooks.

The main issues of this campaign thus far have been, not in order of priority, same-sex marriage, national unity and ethical conduct. My sense is, as I watched the debate and the rhetoric from the campaign trail thus far, is that a more important issue is fermenting beneath all the talk.

That issue is really a call for a renewed vision of a Canada, something that has not been clearly articulated by any of these leaders, at least not in a manner that excites and enthuses the people.

Growing up in the political strident times of the 1970s in Jamaica, hearing and seeing leaders such as Michael Manley, late Prime Minister of Jamaica, I understand what the people of Canada wants of their politicians. Nevertheless, many people across the world have learnt that ‘talk is really cheap’ and that it is what our leaders do that is a much clearer articulation of a vision.

Something that I have felt deeply even before coming here, but it has become more concrete for me throughout this year is that my dream of Canada, The Promised Land, has less to do with economic opportunities, although being able to grasp some really would hurt us none.

The dream and an image that I, yes I a new-comer, have for Canada is of a world-leader that models for those who care to see a way of being that is not simply inclusive or multicultural but pluralistic.

Canada is a place where diversity and differences reside side-by-side united in the vision of a nation and a world that truly creates and sustains opportunity for every human being, every creature and every inch of our environment is respected and cared for - in spite of their colour, stripes, faith, sexuality or whether they are right or left-handed or have paws.

This is my sixth lesson of this year - that it is possible for people, animals and nature of all shapes, size and forms can (and must) live together in harmony. Canada has given me a glimpse into this reality.

Next year this time, all things being equal, I will be a citizen of Canada and my prayer is that the people of this country, myself included, will choose leaders who "walk the talk," in the interest of bringing to reality a country that continues to be a front-runner in celebrating diversity.



Photograph courtesy of


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Visit -->

Wed. Dec. 21, 12:37:00 p.m. MST  
Blogger Claudette said...

I have visited and while I concur with the persons who feel that Canada has not lived up to its "advertisements," in many ways, I still do not regret my decision to migrate to this wonderful country. Further, I am looking forward to becoming a citizen of Canada and using my vote and all the other mechanisms open to citizens to to express my concerns about immigration.

Wed. Dec. 21, 01:29:00 p.m. MST  

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