Saturday, October 17, 2009

Being Canadian

Canadian Parliament Buildings in Ottawa

I was invited to the Canadian Ambassador's house for tea today. This was the second 'Canadian Women's' meeting I have attended. I am not sure how 'Canadian' I feel, but the group is a disparate one. There are Canadian women who are married to Canadian men who work for the new airport, or the Embassy, or mining or oil companies; others are Canadian women who are married to Ecuadorian men; and Ecuadorian, Columbian. Peruvian and Chilean women who are married to Canadian men. The ambassador and his wife are from Vancouver, but have lived in Washington DC and in Iran. They are in Quito for three years. Some women have lived in Ecuador for 19 to 44 years, others for a few months to a few years. They live all over Quito, several in Cumbaya, the rest scattered all over the city. All are enthusiastic about living in Ecuador.

I enjoy meeting with the women. It is a relief to share a common experience with those who share a similar past. Although I left Canada over 20 years ago, I am more Canadian than anything else. The group has several charitable projects proposed for the next few months and I found myself volunteering for every one of them. I am not sure what got into me, but I do have the time and the freedom to participate in whatever appeals to me. I will be making 'Nanaimo' bars for a bazaar next month. I have not made Nanaimo bars since I left Canada, and apparently they are very popular here, and sell amazingly well.

Maya was resistant but I insisted that she accompany me. The occasion was only for the women, but I had met the ambassador's children, and although they were older than Maya, I hoped Maya would enjoy meeting them, and at least she could borrow some books. When I met Nicole a month ago, she had told me that she was expecting boxes of books to arrive from her home in DC. Maya has been reading the same books over and over again since we arrived here, and desperately needs new books to read. She did in fact borrow two books, but more than that, she spent the three hours playing dress up and enjoying every moment.

How odd it is that after so many years away from Canada and of not feeling particularly Canadian, it is thousands of miles away in Ecuador, that I am discovering a sense of identity. I am not American, or 'estadounidensis', and am entirely clear about that when I am asked, but I don't feel particularly Canadian, whatever that means. But I was born in Vancouver, I studied in Edmonton and lived in Montreal; does that make me Canadian? I have a Canadian passport, that ought to mean something. I return to Canada at least yearly to see my parents, who feel very connected to Canada. As I get older, I wish more and more to return to Canada, perhaps to live, perhaps simply to discover it more, to feel more connected to the country of my birth.


  1. Yes, you are Canadian. And this Canadian enjoys your blog everyday. I was born in Mtl, lived in Edm for 15 years, and frequent Van often as my two grown boys live there. (And I enjoy the city very much, but only for short periods of time.) I've been living in Edson AB for the last 21 years, but retirement is looming, and that's how I stubbled across your blog. Ecuador is one of the places I'm looking at for retirement. Also Mexico, Uruguay and most recently, Peru.

    Keep up the good writing, eh?


  2. Thank you, and yes, I do feel Canadian, especially when far far away. Ecuador is more and more wonderful!