Postcards From Canada

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WIP concept for the eventual book cover. The picture was the first polaroid of the trip. Somewhere in dreamy Alberta.  

WIP concept for the eventual book cover. The picture was the first polaroid of the trip. Somewhere in dreamy Alberta.  


With the interview portion of the series completed, I'd like to first of all thank every single person I interviewed, as well as the people that I met along the way. 

But it begs the question, now what? Well I've still got about a thousand pictures and memories of that amazing month long trip. So I'm far from the end of this Canada gush fest. I'll be posting image galleries of pictures taken across Canada. Alongside these galleries, will essentially be travel blogs about the memories made during the trip. The people, the sights. As well as the essence of youth and Canadiana. The postcard moments of Canada. I hope you come back here and check it out, I'll be posting the pictures and announcing when new posts are up on my instagram: www.instagram.com/postcardsfromcanada. So be sure to give me a follow to stay up to date on when I post. 

Thanks to everyone again. And thanks to Canada, the most interesting subject I could ask for. 

Tze, 21, Penang (Malaysia)


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William: So how long have you been in Canada?

Tze: 3 years.

W: So have you noticed something in these past three years that you would characterizes Canadian culture?

T: Umm I mean everyone’s super nice! I don’t know because I hang out with a lot of international students that aren’t necessarily Canadian. They’re very loose, very laid back (Canadians).


 

W: So far, is there anywhere in Canada that you recommend that I have to visit before I die?

T: I mean I love Vancouver. Actually...Kelowna is pretty cool. I wish I had explored it more than I did. But I’ve heard they have really nice canyons and scenery. I really want to go back. Back to the great climbs.


 

W: So where are you travelling this month?

T: So I travelled from Vancouver to Jasper. Going to Montreal and then Quebec city. After that I stop by in Toronto where I have a lot of friends.


 

W: Is there anything that you think Canada could do better?

T: I think they could be more blunt sometimes (haha).

W: So we beat around the bush too much?

T: Well not that you beat around the bush, I think because everyone’s so nice they’re too polite to say their mind about some things. So yeah more bluntness.

W: Right, I guess you see it in Creative writing when they have people critique?

T: Well they give good criticism but sometimes I’ve met some people that agree with everything I say. But like you don’t have to! You can be nice but have your own thoughts.


 

W: How would you describe the Canadian landscape?

T: Oh, I mean there’s so many. Rolling just went through my head. Just beautiful skies, mountains with spirit!

W: I guess also how would you describe the weather compared to Malaysia?

T: Oh I like having seasons. I know people in Vancouver complain a lot about the rain but I actually like the rain. So yeah I actually really like the change of seasons. Like you get into September you get the rain and all. This year was weird because we got a lot of snow which isn’t normal. But I really enjoyed it, playing in the snow. Then summer is beautiful and flowers are blooming, cherry blossoms and all. I also, I don’t know if it’s off topic but I love all the festivals that go on during the summer. I love how diverse it is. But actually I just thought about a better answer for the first questions. Inclusive. Canadians are very inclusive.

W: Awesome, but I was also assuming that Malaysia has a rain season right?

T: Yeah we get a period of more rain. Monsoon rains. But most of the time it’s just hot. When we get rain it’s just nice.



 

W: Who’s your most memorable Canadian?

T: I don’t think I could really pin it down to just one. So I go busking in the streets and I meet a lot of people like that.

W: And what makes them memorable?

T: Just the contact they give you. Like eye contact. This one time a man gave me candy once and I like how they care about you performing there. Like they come up to talk to you and tell you they appreciate it. I really like that. Oh I know one, she’s my creative writing professor at UBCO, her names Anne Fleming. She’s really cool. Just the greatest creative writing professor I’ve ever had. Like I still email her and talk.

 

 

W: If you had to write a birthday card to Canada what would you wish it?

T: That’s a difficult one. I’m stumped man. Ok I’d go with “Happy 150eht” It’s a bad pun (haha) but yeah!


Wongela, 24, Ethiopia


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William: So you’re from Victoria?

Wongela: I live there but I was born in Ethiopia.

William: So you’re first generation then?

Wongela: No, I’m not Canadian at all I’m here on a work permit.


 

William: I guess since it’s such a different climate, what’s your favourite memory from spending winters here?

Wongela: I want to say in 2014, because that’s when I learned how to ski. So I’d go to Whistler all the time with my friends and go skiing. Other than that any time that it snows really in Vancouver or Victoria I got really excited, I built my first snowman this year! So this year was also a really good winter. Otherwise I try to escape the winter, never really been a winter kind of person.


 

William: Do you think Canada has its own identity?

Wongela: I think Canada First Nations have a lot of identity but outside of that, Canada kind of takes its identity from everywhere else.

William: So more of a mish mash of everyone?

Wongela: Yeah, more of an actual melting pot, except I almost feel like Canadian don’t try to keep onto that. Like in the States there’s sections where its all hispanics or its all black people, the sections seem very segregated. But I don’t see that in Canada as much so I think it’s an actual melting pot where people are mixing a lot more. But then of course there’s plenty of Chinese influence in BC in particular. So I think Canada’s identity really comes from First Nations which doesn’t get acknowledged enough. Like I’m just starting to learn about First Nation culture and I moved to Vancouver Island for that to happen.



 

William: If you could recommend me one place in Canada that I have to go to before I die where should I go?

Wongela: Wreck Beach.

William: Perfect I just went a couple days ago (haha) Is there a reason why?

Wongela: Wreck Beach is… I feel like Wreck Beach is my home. Like when I first moved to Canada (7 Years ago) it was my backyard and you can see the forest, mountains and you’re on a beach at the same time. That’s what BC is all about for me, you really can’t beat it. Plus it’s free, plus it’s nude and everyone is super welcoming and ready to mingle.

William: Yeah I definitely noticed that when I went, coming from Toronto where people are on their own wave, the people seemed super welcoming.

Wongela: Plus Toronto doesn’t really have any beaches right?

William: There’s a couple-

Wongela: But they’re lake beaches, they aren’t really the same thing.


 

William: From an outside perspective, do you think there’s anything Canada could do better?

Wongela: Yeah I think they could concentrate more on teaching about First Nations. Like it blew my mind that it took me over 5 years before I actually started learning about First Nations and that’s really disappointing. Also finding out that there’s still parts of Canada that aren’t even getting clean water. They aren’t being prioritized. And then there’s, for example this Canada 150 thing where they’re spending a bunch of money on but they haven’t even fulfilled the essentials for the people who really need it most. Which is really disappointing, like c’mon Canada if you want to be up there in the world you should be taking care of the people. Also the whole reconciliation movement which is cool and all, but it could be so much more and much more developed.

William: Yeah, like I think they should maybe follow the example of the Swami people in Scandinavia and how they’re treated. Have you heard of them before?

Wongela: No

William: They don’t have any border restrictions through all of Scandinavia. And they just exist there completely separate. I think they heard Deer.

Wongela: And they’re nomadic?

William: I think they more or less are.

Wongela: Yeah, I think in general borders can be kinda stupid. Like being patriotic about your border. It’s funny I’m saying this because I’m really really proud to be Ethiopian but like you said earlier the history of my country is unbelievably awesome and I’m sure every country has it’s awesome history but at the same time I think there’s a lot of tribes in Africa and Asia that are also nomadic and they don’t have to follow borders. There’s special clauses prepared for them so that they can travel where they want. It’d be really cool if Canada could have that. But not just give them the shittiest piece of real estate for their reservations. Helping that development. There’s a lot that Canada can still do to make things better. Canada’s definitely not perfect. It’s one of the best, but it’s not perfect.

William: I think that’s actually something very Canadian, like we’re ok but we’re not the best. We’re trying to fix that but we know we’re not the best.

Wongela: That’s really true. I feel they’re very modest. Like there’s still racism here in the sense of ignorance but less so hatred. Which is very important because ignorance can be fixed. But hatred is just ignorance and fear put together.

William: I know what you mean, like I’m French Canadian so there is some racism from Anglo Canadians out west.

Wongela: Yeah there definitely is.

William: And then Quebecois especially hate the West but like they don’t actually hate the people. They hate the idea that they represent, like they’re just ignorant. When I was in BC and I’d tell people that I’m French Canadian they were like “Oh that’s so cool!” But like I’m sure if I was going to Quebec as an Anglophone from out west I think most people would think it’s cool and talk about like the scenery there. Like I feel the hate is less on a personal basis, more of an idea built up in our heads like “Oh they hate us.” but once you actually meet them it’s completely different.

Wongela: Totally and it’s just needing to learn more. Like me I’m an outsider so it’s not a little inside hatred or anything like that. But people don’t know, they’re always asking me weird questions like: “Why do you know how to speak English?” Or “Why is your accent the way it is?”

William: What accent I didn’t even pick any up, I didn’t know you weren’t from Canada until you told me!

Wongela: I know but some people say I don’t have accent but of course I have an accent. Like you have an accent, like the way you accentuate your words is an accent. Like if I was speaking English without an accent I’d be speaking like a British person because they’re the original speakers. So it’s like who are you to say you’re the default you know? It’s little things like that that bother me. But most people in Canada are super friendly or at the very least extremely polite.

William: Yeah the whole sorry thing

Wongela: Yeah Sorry! Sorry!

William: Like earlier I was waiting outside of the bathroom and the girl opens the door, sees me, and says sorry. It’s like what are we apologizing for! I’m just waiting here.

Wongela: Sorry for relieving yourself (haha)

William: Yeah it’s like sorry for making you wait and now I’m sorry that you’re sorry.

Wongela: I know! Oh god now there’s so much guilt.


Zane, 23, Nanaimo


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William: So have you lived in Canada your whole life?

Zane: Yeah, born and raised.

W: Do you know approximately when your family came over?

Z: About 30 years ago, they’re refugees from Cambodia.


 

W: If you had to recommend me one place in Canada I have to go to before I die, where should I go?

Z: Pulp Fiction in Kelowna.

W: Pulp Fiction? What is it?

Z: It’s a coffee shop that’s infused with the largest Pulp Fiction book collection in Canada I believe. It’s very quaint in there.


 

W: Who’s your most memorable Canadian?

Z: Terry Fox, I deeply admired him when I was growing up. He was my hero at the time and I recently rekindled that admiration, there’s a statue of him behind my apartment complex and it was a very touching sentiment. Kinda resurrected a lot of old memories.


 

W: What do you think Characterizes the Canadian Identity?

Z: I don’t think that there is a Characterization, I think it depends on the individual. I think that you can’t reduce something to a Nationality or a standard set of ideals. I don’t know, I think to embody Canada would be to dismantle the entire framework, and not actually acknowledge that it’s so much more than the title.


 

W: What’s your fondest memory of winter?

Z: I have a recurring family tradition where we watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas.

W: Is it because it reminds you of childhood or it’s comforting in a way?

Z: No I wouldn’t say that, I think it’s just...it has romantic tinges to it. It kinda sparked the fascination with the holiday season and also there’s a lot of philosophical aspect to Charlie Brown’s Christmas that a lot of people don’t recognize. So like how Charlie Brown is deeply depressed. And there’s a lot of human interaction that I really enjoy. It’s just a high spirited movie that has so many layers to it depending on how you want to look at it. So I’m appreciative of that and that it’s relatable in the sense that we gather for it.


 

W: What do you think Canada could do better?

Z: Well, I’m planning on doing my MA in Educational Studies and my focus would generally be along the lines of what works for the individual rather than the institution. So I guess the lack of inclusivity in the Education system at the moment and how minority figures are frequently silenced. But whether or not that’s active silence or passive still needs attention.

 

W: On the flip side, is there anything that makes you proud to be Canadian?

Z: I would probably say the freedom attached to it. There is this stigma, that doesn’t necessarily hold a negative connotation that a lot of countries have. With that being said, we, Canadians in general, tend to be more reputable than those that tussle. I think that I’m appreciative of that and I think that’s well established through more civil means.


 

W: So where are you travelling to?

Z: I am going straight across to Halifax, that’s the last destination. First stop is Edmonton, then I’m going to Winnipeg, Montreal but I have a layover in Toronto. And then Halifax at the end.


 

W: If you had to write a birthday card to Canada what would you write?

Z: Well I don’t actually really celebrate the whole Canada 150 arrangement. So I’d probably say something snarky like: “Yeah colonisation’s great!” Obviously deeply sarcastic.


James, 23, Fort McMurray


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William: Where were you born in Alberta?

James: I was born in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Raised in Kelowna, BC.

W: So I’m assuming you’ve lived in Canada your whole life then.

J: I have lived in Canada my whole life.

W: Do you know when your family came over?  

J: My mom’s an immigrant from Portugal, she moved here in 1980. My dad is third generation Canadian from Britain.


 

W: If you had to recommend me one place in Canada that I have to visit before I die, where should I go?

J: That’s a hard question because I feel like it’ll depend on where I’ve been recently, and you already know Toronto really well.

W: Well I mean it’s not just a recommendation for me it’s more in general.

J: Hmm, go to Guilt and Co. in Gastown in Vancouver, it’s this downstairs place off the street, doesn’t look like much. But when you walk down there, it’s kinda like a speakeasy but it’s definitely licenced but it doesn’t feel like it is. Like it feels like it’s kinda hush hush, they have really good live music there.

W: What kind of music do they play?

J: It’s like hot jazz, like New Orleans style.

W: Damn I should’ve talked to you before I left Vancouver

J: Yeah, it was like really good old style, dudes from New Orleans were playing. And then there’s this place called Annette Studios in Toronto, it’s like at Runnymede. It’s ACTUALLY a speakeasy, like you go downstairs and it’s low lighting. There’s projections on the walls and they have a monthly jam session. They host like a festival every month called Annette Fest, it’s like one day of visual arts, one day of music, and there is a bar but it’s definitely not licenced and they can’t advertise because then people would find out. And they’ve been busted before. So there’s those two places.

W: I almost don’t want to show the name then.

J: I feel like they have licenses sometimes for some events. So if you heard about something there then it would be fine to advertise it.

W: So you think I could put this in the book?

J: I think it’s fine I don’t think that many people will be listening don’t worry about it.

W: Just gives me another reason to go to Vancouver for the first one.

J: Oh yeah Guilt and Co. is dope man, also the Tangent Cafe. It has really good Malaysian curries, really good vibe and they also have live music. I got a free meal because I played there so it was tight man.


 

W: If you had to write a birthday card to Canada what would you wish it?

J: I would just wish for 150 years more of prosperity but also to keep in mind Indigenous people, obviously. Because that is a huge thing to do with the celebration, it’s a big overlook, it’s 150 years since Colonisation but the reason that’s the day is we pushed out the people that were already here. Suppressed their culture. Confederation has its benefits but it also did screw over a lot of people. So maybe the next 150 years, work harder on reconciliation. So it’s a very pointed birthday card, it’s like: “Happy Birthday! But you’ve got some stuff to work on, get your shit together.” I think that’s what I’d say.

W: Yeah, I had a response from another interview about the next question I’ll ask you, where she said we’re seen well in the world’s eyes-

J: But they don’t know (Haha)

W: She said like that we’re good at hiding the skeletons in our closet unlike maybe the U.S, we’re just here like: “Oh hi guys we’re super nice don’t worry!”

J: Yeah don’t worry, don’t go to the reserves, don’t go check it out, there’s no running water. Like don’t go to East Hastings street you don’t want to see that. I actually would say though someone should see THAT before they die. That section of East Hastings and Main. It’s not because it’s a good thing it’s because it’s incredibly eye opening. It’s the epicentre of the opioid addiction crisis in Canada. That’s where all of it is. When you go there, you walk one block and you don’t feel like you’re in the same country. So you need to see it, in the sense that there needs to be something done about it. Legislation needs to change and those people need help. They don’t need to be criminalised. That’s another thing so I have like three or four things but there you go.

 

W: I think that actually goes into another question I was going to ask you which is what do you wish Canada did better?

J: That specifically, like the last two points regarding Indigenous people and towards people with substance abuse. I think it is changing like there’s more of a harm reduction strategy being put in place but I don’t think people need to be put in jail for having problems, or to be pushed to the outsides of society. If anything I think those people need to be more within the system, within society instead of pushed out. Like those people need to be talking to health professionals on the daily. Instead they feel scared of judgement and they can’t go in. But I mean there are safe injection sites in Vancouver and Toronto and I feel that’s kinda the way forward. Like I don’t want to say legalise everything but I feel like if there was a way for addicts to get access to clean drugs, instead of having to go to the alleyway and get it from some sketchy dude.

W: Isn’t that what Portugal does?

J: Portugal does but they don’t give it out. There’s this trial in Great Britain where addicts were given Heroin for free, so long as they consumed it in the site under supervision of a health supervisor, so I think that actually is a good thing to do. In the sense that sure you have your addiction and here’s your fix and we care about your health so if you overdose you aren’t going to die, you’re with us. And how are you doing? You doing ok? Is there anything else you need to worry about? Instead of “Oh yeah just get out of here go back to East Hastings, go to your alleyway, overdose, and die.” People need help. Also you don’t know what those people could amount to you know, like just because they’re a junkie doesn’t mean they aren’t brilliant and they can’t help the world. So that’s one thing Canada should improve on. Because it’s a big problem everywhere in the Country.


 

W: Now for the counter question; what makes you proud to be Canadian?

J: The sense of community even across the country. For example during times of wildfire which is a very pertinent point right now, there’s Red Cross donations across the country. And Canadians from all walks of life, from all around every province will reach out to help in a time of need. No matter where you are. Embracing diversity is also another thing about Canada, embracing multiculturalism in all its facets. That’s what makes me proud to be Canadian, and also we have a lot of really good culture and art coming out of here, like disproportionately so relative to our population. There’s a lot of great actors, musician, etc. So shoutout to all those creative types.

W: Yeah and the other thing is that there’s sort of two different cultures as well.

J: Oh yeah the Francophone thing! Yeah that’s another thing that makes me proud you know, the fact that it’s still a separate and distinct cultural identity. And I love French culture, I love French Canada, so shoutout to French Canada.
 

 

W: What's your fondest memory of winter as a child?

J: Growing up in BC, there’s a wealth of mountains and hills, so I’d have to say tobogganing down-

VIA Rail Employee: Just want to let everyone up here know, we’re about to come up to a little waterfall on our right, it’s actually not small it’s pretty big


They were pretty big actually. Thanks VIA rail employee! Pyramid Falls in British Columbia. 

They were pretty big actually. Thanks VIA rail employee! Pyramid Falls in British Columbia. 


J: So yeah I have to say that tobogganing with my friends, going skiing and at the end of the day soaking in the hot tub and having a hot chocolate. That’s it man, also sitting in front of a fire at a ski resort in the ice log cabin.


 

W: Do you think that there’s a Canadian Dream? And is it different than the American one?

J: I think it’s pretty much the same, but I think with maybe more a compassionate edge. You know, do as much as you can to earn what you can, and you’re free to create what you want. And like with universal healthcare how we pay a lot of taxes but we’re ok with it. We have a lot of social security nets. So that’s the difference between us and the American dream.


 

W: Since you’re a musician, what song would you say represents Canada?

J: I think the song called “Canadian Sunset” By Gene Ammons. He’s a saxophone player. It wasn’t written by him but that’s my favourite performance of it.


 

W: What do you think characterizes the Canadian identity?

J: Back to what I said about multiculturalism, the cultural mosaic would be more of an identity than any particular identity, it’s more of the identity that all identities are welcome here. That kind of all encompassing identity, where anybody can have their culture and it be equally valued.

W: Yeah mostly everyone's said that.

J: That goes to show that that’s it then.

 


W: Who is your most memorable Canadian?

J: I’ll give a musical answer so obviously Oscar Peterson. The great piano player that’s internationally renowned pianist who lived in Toronto and toured all around the world but lived his last part of his life in Mississauga. Well respected by the world.  


Jade, 17, London

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Jade, 17, London

 

William: Have you lived in Canada your whole life?

Jade: Yeah, I have

W: Where are you from?

J: I’m from London, Ontario

W: Do you know by chance when your family came over?

J: Yeah I know exactly when they came over actually, my mom’s side of the family has been here since the 1600’s and lives in Acadia so New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

W: Do you speak French then?

J: No it’s pretty distant back in Acadia, like my Great Aunts and Uncles all speak French but I don’t. And also on my dad’s side of the family they immigrated into Manhattan in about ~1680 based on some family records we have and from Scotland, so I’m Scottish on my dad’s side. And then they came into Canada around the 1800’s.

W: Damn thats a lot more detail than most people have about their ancestry.

J: Yeah my family is pretty good at passing down history so I know it quite well.


 

W: If you had to recommend me one place in Canada that I need to visit before I die, where should I go?

J: I think, there’s a place called Albion Falls in Hamilton, and it’s a complete hidden gem, it’s absolutely gorgeous, you wouldn’t think Hamilton would be a place to go see waterfalls but it’s very pretty.

W: Yeah the interview before you he said the same thing about Hamilton

J: Yeah they’re really gorgeous.


 

W: What's your fondest memory of Winter as a child?

J: When I was in grade 8, I think it was like 2012-13, we had a really really bad snowstorm and it snowed for three days where I was, we got like over a metre and a half of snow. School was closed for three days and it was awesome. Me and my neighbours we built a 9 foot tall snowman, that’s definitely one of my favourite. And then we got our picture taken and it was in our local newspaper.


 

W: If you had to write a birthday card to Canada, what would you wish it?

J: Congrats on being old.


 

W: Where are you travelling to?

J: So I’m from London so I flew to Vancouver and stayed there a bit, I went to Kelowna and Kamloops, Edmonton, Banff, Drumheller, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Quebec city and Moncton. That’s my whole route.

W: That’s pretty impressive

J: Yeah literally coast to coast.

W: Yeah I’m doing coast to coast but not with that many stops so it's pretty impressive.


 

W: What do you think defines the Canadian identity?

J: I think that the Canadian identity is defined by multiple identities, we’re a nation of multiple nations and I think that’s what makes us so unique.


 

W: Is there anything you wished Canada did better?

J: I wish they were better at the Summer Olympics. It’s a little bit of a source of shame there. Like woo we got a gold medal in Trampoline and 3 silver medals woohoo!


 

 

Sami, 22, Hamilton

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W: Have you lived in Canada your whole life?

S: That is correct

W: Are you first generation? Or do you know when your family came over?

S: I always forget how it works, but my family came here and I was born about a year after they came. So first generation.

W: You said you have an Arabic name so did they come from an Arabic speaking country?

S: They did, my mom is from Egypt and my dad is from Sudan but he was raised in Egypt his whole life. So I’m half Egyptian half Sudanese.


 

W: Would you say Canada has its own identity?

S: I guess it would because when you ask someone from another country: “What do you think about Canadians?” You get the stereotypical answer like hockey, nice, polite, always saying sorry all the time. But I guess the inclusiveness especially when you contrast that with our neighbours to the south, at the current moment at least. I definitely think that we’re like the welcoming neighbour. In terms of personality type overall.


 

W: If you had to recommend me one place, city, restaurant, etc. That I had to go to in Canada before I die, where should I go?

S: Hmm let’s see… Tell me if you’ve gotten this before; Algonquin park?

W: I have yeah
S: Ok ok I’ll do another then let’s see… In Hamilton, since I’m from Hamilton I’ll recommend it. The Bruce Trail. It’s basically this long trail system that connects the Niagara peninsula, Hamilton and a few cities west of Hamilton. You can basically take it for a day and a half, or more. It’s a super nice scenic bike ride. Along Hamilton it goes along the escarpment which is what we call the mountain. However we’ll soon find out what actual mountains look like. It goes along the side of it, and it’s awesome because Hamilton has a ton of natural waterfalls which this connects to. So if you’re ever there during the summer: Bruce Trail.

W: Yeah I’ve heard a lot about the waterfalls

S: Yeah it’s super funny because I have friends that go to McMaster and they tell me they’ve checked out every waterfall and I’ve been there for 20+ years and I’ve only checked out like one.


 

W: If you had to write a birthday card to Canada what would you wish it?

S: So I’d do the cliche “Happy 150 here’s to 150 more.” And after that I’d say; continue being as self-aware as a country as you are. Just because I was saying this earlier to another group; the fact that we are all proud to be Canadian but it’s not like that blind nationalism that you see, I keep saying it but like you’d see in the US for example. They have people saying like “‘MURICA FUCK YEAH” and nothing’s wrong with our country we’re the best 100% of the time. That can be a problem at times, because if you don’t know what’s wrong with your country you can’t improve on it. So I feel like the fact that we are a self-aware country and we have a good reputation but we can improve and that’s good.

W: Yeah like I was talking about this with another person I interviewed that works for VIA, and we were talking about how Canada, it’s ok to have another Nationality. Where you’re Canadian but you’re also something else.

S: Yeah, and you embrace both

W: Yeah exactly whereas in the States it feels like you can only be American.

S: Yes, like when we were in Winnipeg me and the other person we were with decided to go drinking at 11 am. Because why not, we’re on the train and time doesn’t mean anything on this thing. But this woman was talking about all these festivals in Winnipeg. And one of them was this world's fair where you have a booth setup for every single country, they’re all from Canada but they’re also from all these different countries like Brazil, Japan, etc. So yeah it’s exactly that.

W: Yeah I think that’s my favourite part about Canada, like for example with me and Quebecois culture, that I can still be both. And there’s also some people that reject Canadian culture and identity too.

S: As first generation I see both sides of that though, I feel like that can be an issue at times. I feel that the perfect balance is that I’m this nationality but also Canadian.

W: Yeah, I also feel like it’s problematic because being Quebecois, where there’s feelings of separatism where they don’t think of themselves as being Canadian because going to Quebec is like walking into a different country just because of how different it is. So some people have that experience. Like some people they’ll never learn any English in Quebec…

S: Like out of spite or?

W: Not necessarily, like they’ll sooner learn a native language especially in the North,.

S: Hmm I suppose it’s because it’s more useful there right? Like in Northern Quebec you won’t necessarily need English… that’s so cool. My friend was in Quebec city for St-Jean Baptiste day, and he said it was just the biggest party he’s ever been to in his whole life so I have to go there. It’s in June right?

W: Yes, they like to try to outdo Canada Day

S: I love that. I’ll do that next year.

W: Yeah just don’t wear anything Canada related.

S: I was gonna say yeah I should wear blue, Fleur-De-Lys only.

W: Just don’t wear anything with a Canadian flag on it and you should be good. Even then most people would just say whatever-

S: Yeah you’ll get the super hardcore guys telling you to take that off.

W: Yeah they’re just assholes in that case.

S: Which you get everywhere, it’s not just a Quebec thing you get that everywhere.  

W: Yeah exactly.


 

W: What are you studying by the way?

S: So I currently go to McMaster and I’m going to come back for my fifth year of undergrad. I was originally doing Earth and Environmental science, so like Geology, but then I switched to focus more on Geography. This certain kind of Geography called Epidemiology which is the study of how disease moves over an area. So I was in Geology first and I was into it and then I realised to work in the field that I wanted, which was finding minerals, or rather exploration geology. You have to be able to move up north and live in an obscure area. Or a setting where you’re at work for two weeks and then back home for another two and since I want to settle down and have a family it’s not really something you can do without putting stress on your family.

W: Yeah I don’t think I’d be able to do that either

S: Exactly right, like the idea of raising a kid but you’re the one away all the time. Like I remember I was at this mining convention in Toronto trying to network when I was younger, around two years ago. I was eating lunch with a bunch of older guys and I was asking them about their life in the industry and they made a joke about how you’re not a geologist until you’re divorced at least once and they all laughed because they’ve all been through it and had stressful marriages because they’re away all the time. I chuckled but internally I didn’t like that, was not a fan.
 

 

W: What is your most memorable winter memory?

S: I was in Burlington, Ontario which is right by Hamilton. And we went skating right by the lakeshore, by Lake Ontario and there was this restaurant that had a wading pool but in the winter it turned into an ice rink it was pretty small. I had skates on and it was just a clam snowy night skating by the water and it was just really cool.

W: Yeah when I ask this question everyone always comments about how they love the calm aspect of winter.

S: Yeah, A close second was during that ice storm I think three Christmases ago. When Toronto got the brunt of it and was basically shut down 4-5 days in a row. Hamilton was shut down too for I think two days. But we only had a five seater car and six people in my family. So they all went to a wedding and I was home alone. I was just chilling by our fireplace, all the power was out and I was just reading a book and just enjoying myself. It was such a fun time.


 

W: Is there anything you wish Canada did better?

S: It’s interesting I was actually talking about this with someone back there, there’s a few things. The first one was, in the last federal election I voted Liberal because I agreed with a lot of the points the Liberal party was making. One of the biggest ones I agreed with was electoral reform. Basically get rid of First Past the Post and instead have I think it's called representational government. But essentially that was one of the things I voted them in for. And so what happened is that Trudeau made the announcement that they were going to pull back on that promise. I really regretted that because that was one of the things I voted for. It’s funny because my parents, in their eyes Trudeau can do no wrong, they love him completely. I’d talk to them about my frustrations with this and they’d say “No! Stop he’s great!”. Can’t say anything bad about him, well no you should critique everybody.

W: Yeah critiquing is always important and even the opposite too like I was staunchly against Harper but he expanded the amounts of prescription drugs covered under our universal healthcare.

S: Yeah exactly there’s good and bad I just try to tell my parents that I love and respect you guys but there’s bad sides and good sides to both people and parties. And that’s the other thing too if you knew that the Liberals would go back on those promises would you still voted for them. The other thing I was voting them in on was the legalization of Marijuana and while I don’t necessarily use it as much as some of my friends do, just the fact that they’d get taxes from that and be able to use it on other things. Get it out of the hands of criminals. Like if you look at Washington and Colorado state and how much money they’re making so we might as well take advantage of it.

W: So you think what Canada can do better is in its political promises?

S: Yeah I think it’s about holding politicians more accountable to their promises. Like for example there was a official petition that I signed and once it hits a certain number of signatures it goes to the House of Commons. But more of that and holding more accountable would be useful.

W: I remember reading that one of the reasons they gave for not going ahead with the reform is that they didn’t think younger voters cared enough and the older Liberal voters really didn’t want it.

S: Yeah didn’t want to change the status quo, which is unfortunate that the lack of interest can be seen.

W: And since young people are not such a huge voting block it’s a self fulfilling cycle where we don’t vote-

S: And then we get no representation and then you’re like fuck it I’m not going to vote.


 

W: How would you describe the Canadian Landscape?

S: Varied. And I can’t wait to see how it varies even more. When I was doing Geology at McMaster you have to do a mandatory week and a half in Sudbury where you’re mapping Geology. So all that stuff we saw in Ontario, the Canadian Shield and the Birch trees, it’s all familiar to me. But seeing days and days of fields here for example, I love that too. I love that it’s not consistent.

W: Everyone’s been telling me that

S: Aw damn I want to sound original ok I hate it it’s boring, Trains too slow I’d rather be home. Man the amount of people I’ve been hearing complaining about the train ride. Like you’re on a train what do you expect, how fast are you expecting to move? This isn’t a bullet train.

W: Yeah like I’m having the time of life on this train I don’t really want it to end.

S: I was talking to my friend earlier, this is basically a trip in itself.

W: Exactly, I’m not even worried about the destination right now.

S: It’s the journey not just the destination! Are you just doing Vancouver then, what else are you doing?

W: After Vancouver we’re taking the train to Edmonton then a bus to Banff.

S: That’s cool, I’m doing Jasper, meeting a friend there and driving to Vancouver. Stopping in Kamloops on the way. Then Victoria, then Edmonton for three days. Back to Toronto and then to Way Home hopefully.

W: I’ve got a day in Lake Louise and then back to Toronto, and then to Quebec city and Halifax.

S: Oh you’re doing the whole country nice. I figured since I have friends in Vancouver I’d check out the entire West Coast and then maybe next summer I’d fly out to Halifax or something.


 

W: Who’s your most memorable Canadian?

S: Chris Hadfield. The Astronaut. Just because I was in the Air Cadets when I was younger and so I was in it from grade 7-12 and he was in the Air Cadets when he was younger and they said “oh look you’re in the Air Cadets you could be a famous person like this guy.” So I followed him and read his autobiography. It’s really cliche but he’s such an exemplary Canadian essentially. Super welcoming, great face for the country internationally. Also extraterrestrially because he’s in space.


 

W: Do you think there’s a Canadian dream, and if so, how does it differ from the American one?

S: I feel the Canadian dream might be, me and my older brother were joking that you’re not really Canadian until you own a cottage. So maybe owning a cottage up in Muskoka is the Canadian dream.

Oh look there’s some Horses.

*At the other table*: You didn’t see any before?

S: No first time on the train. Apparently yesterday we passed Bison, I was in the bathroom and I missed it. My seatmate was like: “Sami I have really bad news for you, you missed Bison.” I was like NOOO.

W: Yeah a couple days ago people on this car (Observation car) were freaking out because they saw the northern lights.

S: Are you fucking kidding me?

W: No I’m not kidding you

S: Goddamnit. Sorry didn’t mean to swear on the recording but ugh.  


Malaikah, 26, Winnipeg

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Malaikah was by far one of the most interesting Canadians I interviewed during my trip, the insight she was able to provide having lived in multiple different countries was a refreshing and deeply intriguing look into Canada from a person that was able to see Canada from within as well as from the outside. 


W: So have you lived in Canada your whole life?

M: No, I was born in Winnipeg, then 6 months later I moved to live with my grandma in Mombasa, Kenya (Where my family is from). I lived there until I was 4. Then I lived in a Reserve up north in Oxford House for 2 years. Then back to Winnipeg until I was 11. Then I moved to Abu Dhabi until I was 18, then I moved to France for a year. Finally after that I moved back to Winnipeg.

 

W: I’m just curious but I had a lot of French Kenyan peers in high school, did you learn any French during your time there?

M: No, I went to an immersion school in Saint-Norbert. Then when I first moved Abu Dhabi I went to a Lebanese school and learned French there. Afterwards I attended a British school there and also learned French. When I moved to France is really when I made my French fluent.

 

W: What would you say was the most interesting place you stayed at?

M: I would say Abu Dhabi, because when I moved there it was before people really knew that much about it. People would ask me if it was close to Afghanistan, like they’d ask me if I could hear bombs and no I couldn’t. Then over the course of 10 years it became this huge metropolitan city that people would say it was so cool I lived there even though a decade ago no one knew what it was. But it’s interesting because something like 80% of the population are from different places just temporarily working there so all of my friends in High school were from all over. Like my best friends were from: Fiji, New Zealand, The UK, US, Argentina. It’s great for travelling since they’re all over the globe now I can just ask them if they’re still in Wales or something.

W: So then whats the difference between multiculturalism in Abu Dhabi (UAE) versus Canada?

M: I find in Canada there tends to be a little bit more of pretending we’re comfortable with everyone's multiculturalism, if that makes sense. Like we say “we’re great we accept everyone from everywhere” whereas in the UAE there’s just so many different people from all over the globe and a lot of people are blatant and say “people from here annoy me” but then there’s more of understanding that they do things differently, I don’t like it, but everyone’s allowed to do things differently. So people are more open about their annoyances but also can’t do anything because they’re also doing things the same way then if they were back home. So everyone kind of accepts that like: “oh that's just how the British people do it when they’re here.” So it's different in the way that we’re all different, we may not like it but we accept the fact that we’re all different.

 

W: Since you lived in France, do you think there’s a different mentality towards French and the French language between France and Quebec?

M: Yeah I don’t understand Quebecois when they speak French-

W: Sorry.

M: No no it’s ok! I just find it very difficult, there’s a certain muffledness thats happening almost like slurring. There’s a bit less enunciation which I find hard because the way I always heard it was very clear and articulated. Like my teacher was super super French and when I talked to her last she said my accent had gotten really Canadian and I just said sorry. Like when they show Quebecois shows in France there’s subtitles.

 

W: If you had to write a birthday card to Canada what would you wish it?

M: I guess I’d say Happy Birthday Canada, for the Canada that I know. And Happy Birthday for a Canada that I’ll never know. Because I have to admit, there’s a double edged sword. I’m able to live here and be relatively well off but it did come at a very high cost so hopefully we can make the next 150 years better so we can bring each other closer to healing than we’ve done in the past 150.

 

W: On the flipside, if you had to name one thing that makes you proud to be Canadian? What would that be?

M: I would say from all of my travelling, one of the things that makes me happiest is just how well regarded Canadians are around the world. There’s a friendliness that we’re associated with, a level of generosity, kindness, and humility that I think is...even if it’s maybe not 100% true it’s a good image to have. Like listen your family may not be great but you go out there and people say “but we like your family”, like my family’s messed up but it’s still nice that people respect our family.

W: It’s like every family has their demons but ours aren’t out in the open like some others.

M: Exactly, no one rolls their eyes when you say you’re Canadian. Like ugh why are you soo kind.

 

W: Who’s your most memorable Canadian? Doesn’t have to be a celebrity, can be anyone who’s Canadian.

M: I’d probably have to go with Tegan and Sarah, it’s not one Canadian its a duo but still. Just got me through some really dark times and I’m a sucker for a little bit of angsty pop-rock. Sometimes you just need to cry a little in your room to a poppy song.

 

W: Since you see it so often, how would describe the Canadian landscape?

M: Before I started working at VIA, I had only really seen Winnipeg. So now I’ve been able to really see the country from Toronto all the way to Vancouver. I love it, I love how much it varies and changes. There’s large swaths of one thing and then all of a sudden in thee hours it becomes something completely different. I’d love to be able to go over to the Maritimes because that’s just a whole different feel over there. I want to see rocky cliffs and crashing waves. But that’s funny because travelling so much especially being on the train is when I’m coming back home from Vancouver and it all becomes flat again I’m excited because it means I’m so close to home again. I used to hate the prairies but now it’s a sign that I’m this close to being back in my bed.

 

W: Since you have a pretty unique perspective, do you think that Canada and Canadians alike can do something to improve the divide between Anglophones and Francophones?

M: Yeah I think one of the biggest things is, when I moved back to Canada I was always under the impression that every Canadian speaks French and English, maybe not fluently but that every Canadian would be able to communicate with one another. I think the effort we put into teaching kids French is not really where it should be, you’ll only find pockets of French Immersion schools and it’s not the same, those mandatory French tests you have to take in High school never stick with you. As opposed to everyone starting in Kindergarten being educated in two languages, spend half your day in French, half your day in English. Because a mind of 5 year old is so malleable and historically humans have been multilingual and it’s really common. It isn’t such a crazy idea to speak more than one language. As for the divide, I think there’s a lot of people feeling, especially in Quebec that no one takes them seriously and they’re their own isolated pocket. Everyone else around them is making decisions and they feel like they aren’t being taken in account, their individual needs. Like there’s some legitimate concerns. Someone who only speaks French would have a really hard time moving and living in BC. Same problem the other way around. People are always annoyed that they can’t go to Quebec and speak English but then they expect them to speak English if they come to where they are. It’s a multilayered problem that goes both ways.

W: yeah it seems like a problem that even if one side takes some measures to change the question becomes “well what about you?”

M: Exactly, we all have to start fresh and all do this.

W: Yeah like I met these Syrian refugees in the subway in Toronto that are living and studying in Oshawa, they were telling me that back in their school in Damascus that they learned French, English, and Arabic. It sometimes feels odd that so many people around the world are learning multiple languages and we make a big deal about learning one more.

M: Yeah people can hold onto way more languages than we expect. Like my mom speaks 5 languages.

 

W: I know you didn’t spend too much time in Canada overall, but what’s your favourite memory of winter as a child?

M: I don’t have a lot, because I hate the cold, with a passion. But those warm winter days when the snow gets perfect for snowmen. Those are the best because I’d go into the backyard and build these giant forts. Just hideout there for awhile where the laundry vent was so I could heat up my hands.

 

W: Do you think there’s a Canadian dream? And is there a difference between the American Dream?

M: I don’t know if there’s a solidified thing that I would describe as the Canadian dream, I think there’s a certain tendency to chase “the American dream in Canada.” But it doesn’t flow seamlessly in the way that, we live our lives very differently than they do down in the states. I think fundamentally it is kinda similar but if I were to say there’s a Canadian dream I’d say the Canadian dream is way more immigrant focused than the American counterpart. Where people come from all over who had nothing or now have nothing but have greater opportunities now going forward.

W: Yeah a previous person I interviewed, Jasper, put it well when he described that in America once you immigrate you have to be American first. Whereas Canadian is more of a umbrella term that you can still retain your identity.

M: Yeah my parents for example, they’re Canadian but they’re super Kenyan too whereas I’m more Canadian but also more Emirati than Kenyan too. One of my friends he’s been in Canada all of his life and he’s always saying “but I’m definitely Iraqi.” You do have this have this openness that Canadians aren’t just that, that we’re Canadian AND something else. You can wear the manteau of Canadiana to the extent you want to. We just don’t hold so steadfast the idea of being Canadian so if someone says they don’t really feel Canadian it’s not such a big deal. There’s not as much nationalism, like we celebrate it and it’s fun but in other countries every single day you’re praising a flag.

 

W: If you had to recommend me one place to visit in Canada before I die where should I go?

M: I would definitely say the Rockies, it’s unique in Canada but also the world. There’s not a lot of mountain ranges that you can go to that are very accessible and have this much space to go out and explore. Not just hanging out in Jasper for a day but actually going off the beaten path parts of the rockies, having the chance to go see that side. Also the lead up to the Rockies is so far the most beautiful part of Canada I’ve ever seen.


Steven, 20, Ottawa


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W: Have you been in Canada your whole life?

S: yes except for the 4 years I spent abroad in France.

 

W: Do you know when your family came over?

S: My Dad first came when he was 19 (1980), so that’s 41 years ago. My mom came in 1991.

W: I’m guessing they met in Canada?

S: My dad was fleeing from some kind of war and they wanted to kill him. When the war was settled he moved back home to Lebanon, my mom was studying there. She’s not Lebanese but she went to university there and that’s where they met.

 

W: Do you think Canada has its own identity?

S: I think Canada has somewhat of an identity, but that’s what kinda nice about Canada because it’s so multicultural there’s not really a Canadian culture it’s a lot of different cultures together. There are a couple of things that make the Canadian culture different from let’s say the pure Italian culture, Spanish culture, or African culture. There’s hints of stuff that are different but in general there isn’t really a Canadian culture

W: What would you say those differences are?

S: Religion mostly, most of the youth that I know have religious parents but themselves aren’t really that religious which is different than for example; in my travels when I was in Italy, even the youth there are pretty religious while here, not to stereotype of course, they are less religious than places like Italy.

 

W: This is good since you’re well traveled, if you had to recommend me one place in Canada that I have to go to before I die what would you recommend?

S: Tofino, close to Vancouver Island. It’s the most western part of Canada.

W: Why should I go there?

S: Honestly it’s because it’s such a well kept secret. It’s very relaxed, you meet Native Americans living there as well as Canadians that have settled there a long time ago and of course tourists. The views are incredible, breathtaking. There’s no fast food, it's one of my favourite things about it, it’s all local restaurants. There’s this competition of food that’s the best food vs. the cheapest. The tourists are cool, they all usually have a hipsterish vibe, not stuck up people and the locals are really cool. It’s also the only place that you can easily hitchhike, because as someone who tried to hitchhike, like my dad when he first came he hitchhiked the entire country from Ottawa to Vancouver, when I tried doing it I had no luck because hitchhiking is much harder now and it’s illegal as well. But in the island, especially Tofino, the locals are really relaxed, it’s a nice family ambiance.

 

W: What’s your fondest memory of Winter as a child?

S: I was 7, it was the first time that my parents let me go skating alone in the Canals (in Ottawa) and I was not a very good skater. So I was struggling between keeping my balance, you know, not falling so that people don’t make fun of me. At the same time trying not to get lost because the Rideau Canal is really big. It was the first time I experience winter by myself and not with my parents. With my parents, my mom’s from Greece so she hates the cold so it’s always like “ok cmon lets go back to shelter” but I actually got to see and it started snowing. I spent that whole day skating and then I went to the winterlude. At the time they had a really really big slide. They’d gather all the snow and make a mountain of snow and make a slide with ice, so as a 7 year old it was amazing. I remember that was the first time I thought that Canada was very nice in the winter unlike what my parents say.

 

W: How would you describe the Canadian landscape?

S: Serene. Honestly, I’ve traveled a lot and I would say there’s a lot of better sights than places in Canada but never have I ever seen a country that has this many different landscapes (in the same country.) I mean, you just saw, from Toronto, a huge city to northern Ontario with so many forests and lakes to Manitoba and Saskatchewan where it’s plenty of prairies. Then when you go to the west you’ll see these huge mountains, like legit huge mountains and then surfing in Tofino. You’d never think one country would have all these different things.

 

W: Being Francophone, do you think there’s something Canada could do better to unite Francophone and Anglophone cultures?

S: In Ontario I think they’re doing a pretty good job. But in the West, especially Vancouver, the second language is Mandarin which is cool but there’s no french speakers there so I remember going there and they were like “wow you’re a francophone who’s not Quebecois? You guys still exist?” (and I was like yeah.) and yeah I exist, I’m not Quebecois and I speak French. And then they were so surprised. And like no one speaks french there, like in schools they’d put more importance on learning other languages as opposed to french like Mandarin, not in all schools. I had a friend in Burnaby who said all his classes were in English but his other language class was Mandarin which is really cool, it’s a really hard language, but in the end, the second language of Canada is french. So I think they should focus more on that In western provinces.

 

W: If you had to write a birthday card to Canada, what would you wish it?

S: Congratulations for keeping multiculturalism real for 150 years. I know it’s not perfect but while I’ve traveled a lot, it’s the best one I’ve seen so far. In a perfect society racism would not be alive and would not be well but it’s not a perfect society but as someone who’s been in like many different continents and seen the difference. Honestly, I can say that we’re lucky to be in Canada.


Jasper, 16, Toronto

Jasper in the center, With Matteo on the left and Elmar on the right. My group started out with just 3 others, but in no time we met some amazing people on our way to Vancouver. Soon we had a whole squad of friends loitering in the vestibule huddling together in cramped seats. At first I was worried about the 4 days of travel, worried I was going to burn through my books and be bored. I didn't open them once because of the amazing company and conversations we had. At some points I didn't even care about the destination and barely wanted to sleep. I just wanted to talk and talk. Jasper was definitely one of those people that I felt brought so much to the group, we could all just talk on end. In hindsight, I miss those talks in cramped sweaty cars filled with the collective musk from dozens of young adults. 

Jasper in the center, With Matteo on the left and Elmar on the right. My group started out with just 3 others, but in no time we met some amazing people on our way to Vancouver. Soon we had a whole squad of friends loitering in the vestibule huddling together in cramped seats. At first I was worried about the 4 days of travel, worried I was going to burn through my books and be bored. I didn't open them once because of the amazing company and conversations we had. At some points I didn't even care about the destination and barely wanted to sleep. I just wanted to talk and talk. Jasper was definitely one of those people that I felt brought so much to the group, we could all just talk on end. In hindsight, I miss those talks in cramped sweaty cars filled with the collective musk from dozens of young adults. 


William: Have you lived in Canada your whole life?

Jasper: Yes, I’m first generation Chinese.

 

W: Where did your parents immigrate from?

J: My parents are both from Guangzhou, China. It’s like a large city in the south of China. They came to Canada in 2001, so the year that I was born.

 

W: If you had to recommend me one place I had to visit in Canada before I die, where would you recommend?

J: I would say, be really basic and go to Algonquin Park. Don’t do the really touristy trails though. There’s some stuff along the highway that you can just like stop your car and do them. But if you go camping it’s beautiful, you go up north a little bit and you’re away from all the crowds and you’re completely isolated. Especially in the fall, it's beautiful.

 

W: Where are you headed?

J: I’m going to Vancouver to visit my aunt.

 

W: Do you think Canada has its own identity?

J: I think it does have its own identity, our identity is that you maintain your identity from where you’re from and you add to it. Every time you meet someone in Canada, I feel like you gain a bit. I feel that's the community I think Canada is built around, it’s about being able to adapt and change when you’re encountering new things. It’s different from the States where they say it’s a melting pot. Where everything has to be homogeneous... you have to be American. Whereas in Canada, you can adapt but also hold true to your roots and that’s what I believe the Canadian identity is all about.

 

W: If you had to write Canada a birthday card, what would you wish it?

J: Congratulations for making it to 150 years, you’ve had a lot of issues, but I’m sure you’ll make 150 more.

 

W: Who’s your most memorable Canadian?

J: I had a really amazing teacher in grade 7, she was my french teacher, and she really opened my eyes to what Canada is linguistically speaking. She introduced me to more than just the French language but also French culture and gave me a passion for learning languages. I think she’s really shaped my life, I’ve used French in so many situations and I think without knowing it and taking that class, I don’t think I’d be as informed about Canada as I am now.  

 

W: Do you think there’s anything that Canada could do better with improving the cultural and linguistic divide between Anglophones and Francophones?

J: I think part of it is fixing our education system; how we teach French and French culture. I think that I enjoy French and know about it because of that teacher, she made it fun and interesting. Things like phonetics. I think a lot of Anglophones don’t learn how to speak French properly and don’t like learning it because it’s dry. A lot of French teachers will give a sheet with a verb and just ask you to conjugate it and that’s all it is and it’s boring, no one wants to take that class. Also, especially in Toronto and in Ontario, there’s a really small community. I understand that Canada is an immigrant country and not everyone’s parents speak French but there’s a problem when kids still can’t speak it after 6 years of mandatory French.

 

W: What’s your most nostalgic winter memory?

J: I remember going to Quebec in winter and we took a dog sled ride with our class. I have a lot of good memories from that trip. It’s quiet and I’m standing next to my friend being pulled by a pack of dogs through a snow covered forest, it’s just really beautiful.


The Series:


Starting July 1st 2017, the day of Canada's 150th birthday, I embarked on a month long trip across Canada by train, a journey to see both oceans in one month. This series represents the picturesque landscapes that represent the Canadian experience and the people who live within its borders.


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The Interviews:

On the way to my many destinations across the country, I had the honour and privilege to meet and interview many amazing Canadians. Whether they were born here, or moved here for studies, all of them had so much to say about the country we were watching fly by us. Flanked by the natural beauty of the country, they expressed sentiments about the land, sharing positive and negative opinions of the history that laid beneath it. 

Over the next 8-9 weeks, I will be publishing 9 of these interviews, ultimately culminating on July 1st 2018, Canada day, exactly one year since I initially departed on a trip of a lifetime. 


Emerjade, 23, Toronto

Emerjade was the first person I interviewed for this series, I have to give her immense credit for being so enthusiastic and supportive, I wouldn't have been as confident in asking people to interview them, she definitely deserves a huge shout out for how this series ended up. If you're reading this Emerjade, you're an awesome person, keep doing you. 

Emerjade was the first person I interviewed for this series, I have to give her immense credit for being so enthusiastic and supportive, I wouldn't have been as confident in asking people to interview them, she definitely deserves a huge shout out for how this series ended up. If you're reading this Emerjade, you're an awesome person, keep doing you. 


William: Have you lived in Canada your whole life?

Emerjade: Yes I was born in Toronto and lived there my whole life apart from when I lived in Windsor for school.

 

W: Do you know when your parents came over to Canada?

E: Both my parents immigrated, my mom comes from Jamaica as well as my dad but he lived in England previously since he moved when he was 17.

 

W: If you had to recommend me one place I have to visit in Canada before I die where should I go?

E: Being by the lakeshore in Toronto. I really like the boardwalk and Woodbine Beach. I like realising how small we are in the world, it seems so huge despite it just being a lake. It seems like the ocean. It keeps me humble.

 

W: Do you think there’s such a thing as a Canadian identity?

E: For sure, it’s a mish mash of everyone’s identity. We all contribute a little piece of ourselves and that ends up making Canada the cultural mosaic that makes its identity.

 

W: Is there anything you wish Canada did better?

E: The whitewashing of history. I feel that we should treat indigenous peoples as the original caretakers of the land instead of an inconvenience.

 

W: Is there anything that makes you proud to be Canadian?

E: Most of the time I can feel safe. There’s definitely some problems still, but there’s no wars or conflicts. I never have to worry about my next meal. It’s something I constantly have to check my privilege about, it’s refreshing.

 

W: What’s your fondest memory of winter?

E: When I was 4 years old I was outside with my older brother building a snowman. There was a lot of snow that year. We got absolutely soaked and my mom called us inside. We stripped out of our winter gear and she had some hot chocolate ready for us with marshmallows. It was a special occasion thing.

 

W: How would you describe the Canadian landscape?

E: Dayuuum gurl.