Becoming Canadian…

…on April 29th, 2011 was:

•An emotional burst that made me revisit fulfilled and unfulfilled dreams.

•A recollection of my naivety and insanity that I was carrying on November 15th, 2005 when I landed in Toronto, without having any clue what I was doing. This doesn’t mean that I know what I’m doing now. The purpose of one’s life is not in the program that lays ahead but in the path left behind and the consistency that that path gives to one’s future.

•Shedding a tear or two then denying myself the luxury of exuberant joy. Not that the Romanian group was not the noisiest in the ceremony room.

•The reaffirmation that I am inasmuch Canadian as I am Romanian, that the pride comes with balance. Some of my friends think I am some sort of an outcast because I left the motherland. No, I did not leave the motherland, I left a geographical space that carried incompatible dreams with my future. I did not deny the place left behind just because I moved to another one, I simply do not accept the incompatibility.

•Introspection about what is the “Romanianhood”. What makes me attached to this cultural/ethnical designation? Language, yes. Some attachment to history, yes. Is it the learned past what defines one’s attachment to a culture? Have I become Canadian just because I learned about this country, its past, its dreams? To know is to be.

•Benchmark. List of accomplishments in my head. The job, the house, the bank account. Possessions. I looked around me at the other 28 ethnicities who were taking the oath with me and my mother. Are they richer now? Are they happier because of these new possessions?

•Sense of urgency. The need to prove Canada that it continues to deserve me. That I still need to prove more. That complacency is the last thing that I should adopt.

•Humbleness. Why me and why not the thousands who wait for this chance?

•Pride and fleeting vanity. Am I better that the thousands who wait for this chance?

•Relief and milestone. The big formal checkmark of the last 6 years.

I loudly repeated the oath in French and English.
I exchanged a few words with the judge in French. His name is Normand. He is of Métis background.
I sang the anthem in the Judge’s choir, in the middle, next to the Judge, loudly, although I was not sure of all the lyrics.

I listened to documentary called “Taking the oath” played on CBC Radio One yesterday. It said that most immigrant women prefer to stay at home. They do not involve in their community, in the public life. That they feel homesickness. That there are not enough programs for immigrants. That jobs are harder to find the more qualified you are. That the “Canadian experience” haunts like a beast. That the immigrant has to reinvent himself. That for some, in their hearts it takes 10 years to truly feel Canadian.

I say that as an immigrant you have no excuses not: to learn English, to try to learn French too (or viceversa), to use the free access (come on people!) public library (enormously rich in resources), to socialize, to meet and greet people, to take genuine interests in others, to fight for a job, to communicate, to share knowledge and be always open and willing to learn assiduously and continuously. Complacency is not an excuse. Laziness is not an excuse. Weakness is not an excuse.

Canada has not disappointed me for one simple reason. I did not expect anything of my new country. I expected a lot of myself. I still do. Disappointments rise from a context when one’s expectations are not realistically aligned with the environment.

I am a happy and content Romanian-Canadian. Awakened to a new sense of maturity and sensibility I am grateful for the journey I have lived, I am grateful for the journey to come.

Stay tuned!


About Vlad Bunea

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