The displaced Canadian identity
There have often been questions about Canadian identity, since it is really just the combination of identities from around the globe; nevertheless we openly celebrate this diversity.
Along with this multiculturalism comes diverse migration; if we look at being “Canadian” in simplistic terms, such as possessing Canadian citizenship, we’re faced with issues as to what constitutes a “Canadian” while abroad.
Three years ago, the world watched as a crisis unfolded in Lebanon. The Canadian government was harshly criticized for not responding more quickly to the pleas for help from Canadian citizens those living in Beirut.
However, the government discovered that although most of the people demanding help may have been “official” Canadian citizens, the majority had never actually lived in Canada.
So, if a person was not born in Canada and has never lived here, are they Canadian?
A recent study by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada examined the nature of immigration and its relation to Canadian society. The study concluded that naturalized Canadians are three times more likely to leave the country then those native-born; meaning 27 per cent of people who obtain Canadian citizenship will move away.
Don DeVoretz, who conducted the survey, asked the question: is Canada nothing more than a revolving door?
Since Canadian citizens have the right to return at any time, this creates an increase of pressures on our health-care, pension and welfare systems.
This strain on Canadian society is becoming more extreme; the study also revealed that 2.8 million “Canadian” citizens are permanently living abroad – this accounts for about eight per cent of our total population.
These statistics only bring us back to the original question as to what constitutes a Canadian. How can somebody who has barely lived in this country connect to Canada?
On the political front, how can a party leader like Michael Ignatieff delude himself into thinking he can run a country he has had no direct involvement in for thirty some years’. Though the essential components of Canadian living are similar, much has changed in our society since the late 1970s.
The central question surrounding both my argument and the information presented in the Globe and Mail article is “Why are Canadians leaving?” What is not being offered in this country?
Coming to an answer is vital in order to maintain Canada’s future and its national identity.
According to The Globe and Mail, Canadians feel they can live abroad and still feel closely tied to Canadian society. Some even claim they feel more Canadian by living abroad.
Maybe being Canadian is not tied to a landmass. Maybe our multicultural identity has transcended the traditional sense of community and nationalism – being Canadian has become an association to a certain perspective, and it seems a good one too.
Identity, it would appear, is not a definitive “thing.” It is an ambiguous, ever-changing and evolving concept. We are unsure of it now, and may remain so in the future. What is important is to be aware of such ideas in order for our society to run justly and contently.