In case you have been living under a rock for the past six and half months, this year was an extremely special birthday for all of my fellow Canadians as we prepared to celebrate Canada’s 150th year of Confederation, just a few short weeks ago.
Now I can go on and on about the crazy amount of things I am grateful for as a Canadian, but in celebration of this special birthday and our partnership with CIBC for their #StandforCanada campaign, I’m shining the spotlight on something that myself as well as many Canadians hold near and dear to our hearts as it’s what launched Canada into being the great nation that it is today – Immigration. Being a first generation Armenian-Canadian, I don’t have a special “coming over” story that is going to bring you to tears, but I do have a family who have stories and experiences on their voyage over to Canada that I think will do the trick just fine!
Like many people who have grown up in Canada, immigration has played a part in our cultural identity whether you’re a first generation Canadian like myself, if your family has been here for generations, or whether you are a young Canadian immigrant yourself. Most Canadians are or come from a line of immigration somewhere in their family. After all, we are recognized as one of the most multicultural lands in the world, having opening our doors to the many great cultures and backgrounds that make Canada what it is today.
Now being an Armenian-Canadian, one may automatically assume that my parents are from Armenia. But like myself, many Armenians due to the dark pages in our history that came from the Armenian Genocide, experienced a migration shift that resulted in the people who once took up the larger Armenia that used to exist. They had to adjust to cultural migration and social darwinism while adapting and moving to the surrounding countries in order to preserve their own beliefs, identity and ultimately preserve the Armenian culture. So more often than not, you will most likely meet an Armenian person in your life that actually comes from Lebanon, Syria, Georgia, Iran or like my family, from Turkey. So even before my family came here, immigration played a role in my own family history as it was the only thing that would ensure the safety and preservation of my own family name and culture.
Fast forward to the 1970s where my father and his family immigrated to Canada in reaction to the cultural changes and unstable political climate that began to shift in Istanbul, Turkey at the time. Ten years later, my mother moved over to Canada also from Istanbul, for a more stable and secure political climate and ultimately to meet a man that later became her husband and my father.
Now without Canada being the country that it is in terms of immigration, I honestly don’t know the course history would have taken. Would my parents have ever met each other? Would I have had the privilege and opportunity to grow up in a country that my parents did not have the luxury of growing up in? Would being born anywhere else have shifted the person that I am today ? Ultimately, I think if it wasn’t for my parents ability to immigrate and become Canadian citizens, that the answer to all of these questions would sadly be a no.
So this year, more than ever, I wanted to take the opportunity the opportunity to share with all the Do The Daniel readers what immigration means to me and ultimately, why I love this country because my life wouldn’t be the same if it were not for the opportunity my family had to plant their roots in Canada’s soil. So thank you for joining me and all my fellow Canadians as we showed the world why we Stand for Canada on July 1st and what Canada150 really means to us as all Canadians!
To commemorate their 150th anniversary, you are invited to download the CIBC150 App (on Google Play and The App Store on iTunes) and discover new stories every week from our collective history. To join in on the social media conversation, make sure to follow @CIBCnow on Instagram, @CIBC on Twitter& ‘Like’ their Facebook page. Make sure to use and follow the #StandForCanada & #
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Cheers from the 6ix,
Photos by Aram Eginliyan & CIBC