This July we asked members of our Immigrant Advisory Table for their reflections on being in Canada this Canada Day 2022. Special thanks to Alemu Nenko and Maggie Mak for hearing our call and sharing their journeys with us.      

Alemu Sekora Nenko
For my family and me, being in Canada means an ideal place on Earth. That is not necessarily because I came from Ethiopia, which has been ruled by successive repressive regimes for more than three decades and is one of the poorest countries in the world. Certainly, it is not because Canada is one of the richest nations. Yet again, as a social science student, I fully understand that neither the social history of Canada was perfect, nor today’s Canada is free of challenges.

Then, why is Canada an ideal place on earth?

I have two main reasons.

First, by learning from its own mistakes and the mistakes of other countries, Canada has shown slow but consistent progress in terms of attaining social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. So many developed nations have shown faster progress than Canada. Unfortunately, almost all of them have shown regress, and politics of anti-diversity, anti-equity, and anti-inclusivity are on the rise almost everywhere in the western world. In my view, that is why we should be grateful for being in Canada, where efforts of achieving social JEDI have been in progress for decades.  

Second, being in Canada, we still have a window of opportunities to strive for more improvements in social JEDI. That is mainly because we have institutions that support changes, and a vast majority of Canadians firmly believe in equality for all human beings irrespective of their backgrounds. Further, Canadians do not often buy into polarized politics like other western nations. As a result, there is still a level playing field to advocate for collective progress toward making Canada a more ideal place on earth. 

Maggie Mak
Happy Canada Day!

It was my second Canada Day in Canada.

This day has another meaning for me because July 1st is also Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day. I think it reflects what this day means to me by being in Canada. I love Canada and I am proud and honoured to be able to live, work and enjoy the nature and diverse culture and food on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

As a newcomer, I am very grateful and blessed for all the opportunities and amazing encounters with wonderful people in Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary. Meanwhile, as a Hong Konger, this day reaffirms my identity and my hometown, which is the root of me and my family. I always remember that I shall not take things and freedom here for granted. I truly believe it is valuable to keep the balance between working towards Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) and maintaining your own identity. At the same time, as a person who loves diverse cultures, I would love to continue learning about different cultures and nourishing my cultural humility in this beautiful country.
On Canada Day, I had a fabulous time with my family and friends. We went to Emma Lea Farms to pick strawberries. I learnt about the long history of the farm while enjoying the sunshine with the sweet smell of strawberries. I also went to Tsawwassen Mills and then had a hotpot at my friend's home at night. My friends are newcomers from Hong Kong too. We talk about the challenges and blessings we experienced in Vancouver. We shared our feelings and experience as temporary residents in a new country. That includes surprise, insecurity, satisfaction, confusion, freedom, frustration, and support.

We also celebrated our growth and strengths as we walked through those good and bad days.

We are also doing different things to assist and support recent newcomers from Hong Kong in regard to increasing Hong Kong immigrants arriving in Canada.
I am eager to learn (new things), unlearn (old beliefs or norms) and grow like saplings. Support from social networks is like the sunshine which facilitates our growth. Moving forward, I would love to connect HKers with the local community and people from multi-cultural backgrounds and that is also one of my aspirations of joining IAT.

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