In 2006 I landed in Prince George, a day before Christmas. It was not the coldness that shocked me, as many people might assume. It was the quietness, maybe it’s better to be described as loneliness, I am one with the land, the black and white. My mother and I had lost our luggage in the airport, so we slept on a basement mattress. No bedding, the TV only had 5 channels; the only channel that had cartoons was in French.

I assumed that I will hate this country. Wouldn’t you? If you were an immigrant, 12 years old?
Pressure and pride kept me from losing myself, back ground as a Chinese means you have a family pride on you shoulder, my family was especially that,  my parents are both Ph.D.s and they are the low achievers in my family. “Pressure is always good, it keeps you going” says my mom. I guess it was the wrong concept for me, it got me severe depression. This is because of a mere thing called culture crush, what I have learned goes straight against what my new and bigger environment is teaching me.

My bigger environment  “Canada”.  I realize it when people try to push me into the Chinese immigration circle.  I don’t really like staying in the immigration circle, to me, what’s the point? If I wanted to know Chinese people, speak Chinese or know the culture, I’ll just stay in China. I want to be in the main stream, I want to know what Canada really is. After years of fitting in, I realized a big invisible circle of “space” is the difference between collectivism and individualism. What I like versus what will benefit my group. Thus, if I consider too much for the group, it’ll be odd and sometimes cause trouble to others, making them feel like the air is tense near me.

It’s hard to find the group that fits me. I speak Chinese but I think Canadian,  white Canadians don’t really let me fit in because I look Chinese, which could easily make me fit into some stereotypes that go against the mainstream. Chinese don’t like me because I think “funny”.  To me, the whole thing just means I need to be me, not just the label of  “a Chinese girl in Canada” or a “Canadian grown Chinese”.

After the struggle of identity, I started to look at the bigger picture. What is Canada? As most people will do, I started to compare Canada with USA, how come our tax is so high and government workers are so slow? How come people are ok with “wait” in the hospital line until they are dying? So many questions until I realize, the C in Canada is “containment”.  Here people are allowed to “f…. up”. People are allowed to live the way they want to, truly free. And all we need to do is realize the ignorance of “the Israelites”, in their lack of faith in their leader (Moses) and LEARN the importance of freedom, which to me, arrives from knowledge.  

At this point, you might think that my thinking is quite clear, and this is a pure reflection of what Canada has given me, the way to think “liberally”, something that most of my peers are not granted.
Canada has been growing on me, let me see who I am, and taught me how I ought to be.
I experienced Canada, and my background is Chinese.

By Maggie Jiang