Canada is a land of immigrants. True, but the psyche of the immigrants changes.
Our first immigrants were hunters about 40,000 years ago following herds across a land bridge under what is now the Bering Straight from Asia. Although glaciation had lowered the sea level to open the bridge, this area was not glaciated.
Because of their means of travel, these people were here to stay.
As glaciation changed costal and inland migration routes opened and closed. Settlement that was originally towards Central and South America extended into the eastern parts of North America approximately 10,000 years ago.
Again, except perhaps for some back migration from Alaska, these people were here to stay. We now refer to the cultures descended from these early migrants as our First Nations.
After Columbus, Europeans began immigrating to the Americas. In Canada, most of the settlement was from northern Europe. Although there was traffic back across the ocean, most of the people who came prior to the formation of Canada came to stay. When the trip took approximately 30 days in a small wooden ship, returning to one’s country of origin was rare. Pre-Confederation immigrants were predominantly here to stay.
My family came to a portion of the Canadas near Huntington Quebec and farmed. When they had enough equity, they sold and like many exhighland people, moved to Glengarry County Ontario. The family was here to stay.
I am a Canadian.
Up to the middle 20th century, immigration was predominately by sea. It took about a week aboard a ship to get here and then some time on a train to reach a place to settle. Although trips home were more common, most were here to stay. My aunt was a WW2 war bride. I doubt if she made more than 5 trips to her country of birth in the 60 years she was capable of travelling.
Things have changed. It seems to me that many of today’s immigrants because of ease of mobility are not as committed to the land. When a half day’s flight by plane at relatively low prices is all it takes to “go home” anywhere in the world, home becomes not here.
We now have an obtuse desire to subdivide people. We are not Canadians, but “xyz-Canadians”. Why do we have to subdivide? In conversation, if asked it may be alright to say I’m a Canadian of “xyz” origin, but please don’t hyphenate.
In 1907, Wilfred Laurier 7th Prime Minister of Canada said: “’In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes a Canadian and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin..
But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet a Canadian, and nothing but a Canadian…
There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is a Canadian, but something else also, isn’t a Canadian at all.”
On January 17th 2012, Stephen Harper 22nd Prime Minister, when asked about dual citizenship told reporters “I’m a Canadian and only a Canadian”.
Two Prime Ministers from two parties from two centuries. Good company
We should be Canadians. Period. Today, I’m afraid that this is not always the case and when is isn’t, it’s hurts the country.