From My Parents’ Homeland to My Own

From My Parents’ Homeland to My Own

By Shachi Kurl, Executive Director

As a journalist and then a polling executive at the Angus Reid Institute, Shachi Kurl has explored the questions around immigration and its role in the Canadian experience and identity. As the Canadian-born daughter of immigrants herself, Kurl understands how emotional the issue can be. And, especially during an election year at a time when immigration has become a loaded issue across Western democracies, just how politicized it can get.

Allergies. Specifically, a violent allergy to ragweed. 

We’ve come to expect the origin stories of Canadian immigrants to be more romantic, or dramatic. Flight from conflict. First steps into a new culture. Canada as a deliberate destination, a conscious choice.

For my parents, it was an accidental affection. By the time they drove up to the Peace Arch border crossing between Washington state and British Columbia, they had already lived in the United Kingdom and the United States, having emigrated from India. 

But the American dream was not to be for my father. His teaching options limited him to universities in the Midwest, which limited him to terrible health due to hay fever. So, he and my mother packed up their lives, (including their most precious possession, my sister) and set off for Vancouver. 

The beauty of the Coast Mountains was a strong selling point, the salty crispness of fresh marine air wafting from the Pacific Ocean sealed the deal.

My story of Canada is one of a choice made for me. I was among the first generations of Canadian-born children of immigrants educated under official multiculturalism. When you’re little, you’re not alive to the importance of it. You just know that you’re in a school full of kids whose parents—or who they themselves—were born in other parts of the world. We ate different foods. On special occasions, we wore different clothes.

For the rest of this piece, please view it on Policy Magazine’s website, where it was initially published.


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