Sunday, July 24, 2011

Citizen C

I became a legal Canadian citizen a few days ago.
Unless one has gone through the process, very few would know what it entails. For most of us, we are citizens of the country we were born in, or grew up in. I have no clue how to become a Mauritian citizen, but going through the process of calling Canada 'my' country definitely made me think of what it means to be from that country.

Having been in Canada for the last 10 years less the 18 months plus holidays I took out of the country, I have, I think, assimilated enough Canadianism to fool people into thinking I am from here. With the odd intonation on some words and a hint of an accent, the ignorance of slang words and expressions, the obvious cluelessness when it comes to social or historical events that happened before my landing here, I blend in quite well with the hordes of immigrants who call this country home. Would I however think of myself as Canadian when asked?

I have taken pride in displaying my bilingualism and my Asian descent despite being born in an African country. It amazes people that coming from such a tiny island, I am faring well in gigantic Canada away from my parents and closest relatives. It surprises even more that I am not alone. There is a big Mauritian community in the Canadian ranks, those who settled decades earlier when Canada was just this distant country where it snows and that promises success and wealth, to those who, like me, came to study with the financial support of their parents and stayed because it offers more opportunities that we would otherwise have back home.
Here, I did it again. 'Home' is Mauritius in this case. When I go visit Mauritius though, home is Canada. I am lucky that I may hold dual citizenship, I am therefore not obliged to choose. Of course I would choose according to my mood and advantage, that cannot be helped. But have I not been able to keep my Mauritian citizenship, the decision to become Canadian wouldn't have been that easy. Being Mauritian is part of my identity. In my heart I know I will always be Mauritian. It does not however mean that I feel any less kinship with my fellow Canadians. Canada is forging some traits of my personality just as well as Mauritian society moulded my identity. Give it another decade or so and I'm sure when asked, I will truthfully claim to be Canadian. For now at least, I may say that I am grateful to have been welcomed into the Great North's family with open arms, as the picture attests, by others who have gone through the process themselves as well as those who feel proud that people all over the world want to call their country home. Viva Canada! :)